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U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, one of three congressmen who represent Hays County, at the helm of the House’s Science, Space and Technology Committee. COURTESY PHOTO

U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, one of three congressmen who represent Hays County, at the helm of the House’s Science, Space and Technology Committee. COURTESY PHOTO

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GUEST COMMENTARY by U.S. REP. LAMAR SMITH

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Many Americans have experienced the ill effects of Obamacare. That’s because the President’s broken promises are piling up. He promised that if you like your health care plan you can keep it. But for millions of Americans, that’s not true.

He said that the law would make health insurance more affordable. But across the country, Americans are seeing their premiums go up, not down. And when launching Healthcare.gov, the Obama administration said that the website was safe, secure and open for business. We now know that isn’t true, either.

The data obtained by Healthcare.gov is one of the largest collections of personal information ever assembled. It links information between seven different federal agencies and state agencies and government contractors.

The website requires users to provide personal information like birth dates, social security numbers, and household incomes in order to obtain information about potential health coverage. But security experts have expressed concern about flaws in the site that put this personal data at risk and subject users to the threat of identity theft.

This week, the Science Committee, which I chair, held a hearing to examine security and privacy concerns about the Obamacare website. We heard from witnesses outside the government who are experts in cybersecurity and hacking websites. They provided a convincing evidence of the vulnerabilities that underlie Healthcare.gov.

One of our witnesses, David Kennedy, is a “white hat hacker,” who is hired by companies around the world to test the security of their online systems by essentially hacking their websites. During the hearing, Mr. Kennedy gave a demonstration of the healthcare.gov website’s vulnerabilities showing in real-time that hackers can access personal information on the website. It’s clear that not only is the website vulnerable, it’s under attack.

When asked whether he believed the website had already been compromised by hackers, Mr. Kennedy testified that he believed the website has either already been hacked or soon will be.

The massive amount of personal information collected by the Healthcare.gov website creates a tempting target for scam artists. Identity theft jeopardizes credit ratings and personal finances.

Here are some real-life examples of people who have already had misfortune after using the Obamacare website. Thomas Dougall of South Carolina received a surprise phone call from a stranger one Friday evening explaining that he had just downloaded a letter off the Healthcare.gov website containing Dougall’s personal information.

And when Lisa Martinson of Missouri called Healthcare.gov’s customer service after forgetting her password, she was told three different people were given access to her account, address and social security number.

Aside from technological vulnerabilities, it turns out that federal employees—called navigators—who help users apply for insurance on the Healthcare.gov website have not received background checks. Yet they are able to access the personal information of thousands of people.

These threats to Americans’ well-being and financial security should make us question the future of Obamacare. Perhaps it is time to take Obamacare off of life support. Americans deserve a healthcare system that works and that they can trust.

The Obama administration has a responsibility to ensure that the personal and financial data collected by the government is secure. It is clear that is not the case today. In their haste to launch Healthcare.gov, it appears the administration cut corners that leave the site open to hackers and other online criminals.

Given the distressing testimony we heard at the Science Committee’s hearing about Healthcare.gov, there is only one reasonable course of action. Mr. President, tear down this website.

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U.S. Rep. LAMAR SMITH, a San Antonio Republican, represents Texas CD-21, which includes a slice of Hays County, including western San Marcos and most of Buda. He chairs the U.S. House’s Science, Space and Technology Committee. This column is published in the San Marcos Mercury through an arrangement with Brietbart.com, the conservative news and commentary website which published the piece earlier today.

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10 thoughts on “Lamar Smith: Don’t fix Healthcare.gov, deep-six it

  1. This is a perfect example of why Lamar Smith is such a terrible example of a public servant. He and his ilk have been rooting against the Affordable Care Act, indeed have voted something like 40 times to repeal it, and have never once even moved into the same universe as lifting a finger to “fix” anything that may be compromising its effectiveness. He is, in effect, rooting against the common good of the American people, including many in his own district. But of course, he just will not hear any of that. He has his ideology to be true to, and actually working for the common good falls many rungs below that on his hierarchy. Indeed, the very definition of a terrible public servant.

  2. David, he isn’t my favorite, but he has been consistent on this one. He voted against it, as did every Republican everywhere, every time. Remember, Massachusetts even sent a Republican to the Senate in a special election to stop the plan. The President still went forward without any support from the other party and against the majority of the American people. Now, the early opposition is proving justified, because the government is proving once again it does nothing well. Millions are having the premiums increase and millions more are having plans they were happy with cancelled. Approval for the program has gone down from below 40 at the time it was passed to some really, really low numbers now that everyone has gotten a look at it.

    Smith still opposes it, and he continues to support private market solutions. Since you and the President do not agree, you wrap your own position in the “common good” and criticize someone who would dare disagree. Never mind that an overwhelming majority don’t think the plan is for the common good; you know better than them what is good for them. Actually, the best thing for the most people (the common good) would be to have the role of the government in health care dramatically decrease to a level in line with their competence. Covering for incompetence with a self-evaluation of good motive is very scary — just like the words “we are the government and we are here to help.”

  3. What is really scary and confusing is that Rep.Smith is even on the Science Committee, much less chair! His ridiculous rantings, beliefs and votes are an embarrassment to Texans and educated people everywhere. To continue to beat the “repeal” drum for Obamacare is just pain stupid.

  4. Re skeptical’s comments:

    Michael Saks on Health Care Blogs a year ago explained the problem with the public perception of the ACA pretty well:

    But very few polls ask why people disapprove. The answers to that question change the picture dramatically.
    One study that did ask “why” found that quite a bit of the disapproval comes from people who want health care reform expanded. When asked what they want done with the ACA, only 38 percent of survey respondents want it replaced with a Republican alternative or simply repealed; 25 percent want it kept as is, and 28 percent want more than the ACA provides. These latter 28 percent doubtless are the remnants of the 46-65 percent of the public who wanted health care reform to include a “public option,” or the 35 percent who want a single-payer system. Put simply, most Americans (53 percent versus 38 percent) want either the ACA or something with a greater role for government.

    Many who disapprove of the ACA say they disapprove because it “creates too much government involvement in the health care system” (54 percent). Yet the public supports Medicare by 95 percent to 3 percent, Social Security by 95 percent to 4 percent, and Medicaid by 92 percent to 6 percent. How can a public that so overwhelmingly supports those far more government-involved programs complain that the ACA “creates too much government involvement”? The incoherence is not difficult to explain. Large numbers of respondents have told pollsters that they are “confused about” (48 percent) or “don’t have a good understanding of” the ACA.

    Their lack of understanding is confirmed by the findings that more than a third think the ACA contains provisions that it does not contain (e.g., death panels) and barely half can identify provisions that are in it.
    Many who oppose the ACA explain that their unfavorable views are entirely a reflection of their general dislike of Washington (38 percent), rather than anything in the ACA. For these folks, booing the ACA is nothing more than an expression of their distaste for government generally. On the other hand, now that the Supreme Court has spoken, only 38 percent of the public overall want opponents to continue fighting against the ACA.
    Support For Specific ACA Provisions

    Some surveys dig further and ask respondents about specific provisions of the ACA. At this point, negativity disappears almost entirely:
    .
    85 percent like the provision on pre-existing conditions
    80 percent like the tax credits to small businesses for employee insurance
    79 percent like requiring easy-to-understand plan summaries
    77 percent like closing the Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole
    71 percent like subsidy assistance to individuals
    71 percent like the appeals process for unfavorable health plan decisions
    70 percent like Medicaid expansion
    69 percent like elimination of cost-sharing for preventive services
    68 percent like covering children to age 26 on parents’ insurance

    All of those provisions find favor not only with majorities of Democrats and Independents (who also support additional provisions), but also with a majority of Republicans. So, although we do not like the label on the package, we apparently love what is in it.

  5. The man is an embarrassment. His healthcare solution is to change nothing from what we had pre-ACA.

  6. I doubt Lamar Smith even wrote or is reading the responses to this commentary. This is just part of his attempt to keep his name in front of the public. He knows he is not going to repeal the ACA. He is just pandering to the lowest level of intellect and reason. Facts do not matter to Rep. Smith nor his “conservative” supporters. Why let facts get in the way of a good story? Okay Rep. Smith, where is your response to anything? What are your qualifications to chair the Science Committee, anyway?

  7. Day 2 and no response from Rep. Smith. Could it be that he has no intention of doing anything about Obamacare, except to frighten and scare his constituents about it? What is his position on cutting billions more out of Food Stamps? What is his opinion of Perry and his state congress denying Medicaid benefits to a million Texans? Maybe the poor people will just move to a state that cares. What has Rep. Smith ever done or proposed that would help poor people? Anything? Anybody?

  8. Rick, I can’t believe the Congressman isn’t responding to your online comments. If you just keep counting the days, I am sure you will hear something.

    I think you are confused. Taking people’s money by force and then redistributing it to the poor is a very poor measure of your caring and compassion. It is easy to spend someone else’s money. Spending your own time and money to help your neighbor out of the ditch is a much better measure of your caring and compassion. And removing food stamp benefits from those who are cheating the system or are fully capable and able to provide for themselves is really more compassionate than continuing a pattern of turning the able into self-disabled wards of the state. What many trapped in poverty really need is ropes of opportunity out of their situation to a new reality where they produce and provide for themselves. Seems you’d rather toss scraps over the edge to keep them happy down in the ditch. I don’t know what I call that position but “caring” wouldn’t be it.

  9. When someone questions Mr. Hankins’ points or articles, Mr. Hankins is very quick to respond; because, I think, he truly believes in what he writes and is willing to defend himself. Rep. Smith obviously does not care, nor was this a serious commentary. The point of this article is that Rep. Smith is attempting to capitalize on peoples’ fears, hatred and dissatisfactions about Obamacare. I personally am glad that Obama cares and am disappointed that Rep. Smith does not.
    If the right were doing nearly as much to help get people healthcare and jobs as they are doing to cut benefits to poor people, then perhaps Rep. Smith, Skeptical and I could find a middle ground on the definition of an adequate social safety net, a living wage, and what constitutes abuse of the “Food Stamp” system. I do not believe that anybody is getting rich off of “Food Stamps,” and that the benefits of the WIC program are vital for many needy families and especially children in Texas.
    Skeptical, can you name one thing that Rep. Smith has done to create jobs or help the poor? Do you have anything to refute Mr. Hankins’ exhaustive responses to your comments?

  10. Seems to me the takers have their advocates and the makers have theirs and proposing that we “find a middle ground” is like asking the other side to raise the white flag. For my part I’ll keep looking for ways to motivate the non-productive to get off their asses, play through the pain and quit asking me to buy their insurance and food.

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