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Republican voices concern about data security on Obamacare website

By Tom Curry, National Affairs Writer, NBC News 

As the Obamacare administration claimed new success in getting its health care enrollment web site running, Republican opponents of the Affordable Care Act renewed their criticism Sunday.

House Energy and Commerce Committee member Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) questions Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the troubled launch of the Healthcare.gov website. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

“The most important part of this discussion that nobody talks about,” Rep. Mike Rogers, R- Mich., said on NBC’s Meet the Press, is that “the security of this site” and its ability to safeguard health and income information “does not meet even the minimal standards of the private sector.”

He argued that Americans “should not tolerate the sheer level of incompetence securing this site. And remember how much personal information is not only there, but all of the (federal government data) sites that the (healthcare.gov) hub accesses would expose Americans’ personal information in a way that is breathtakingly bad.”

Meanwhile the Obama administration said in a report released Sunday that the HealthCare.gov website is now functioning most of the time. The administration report said more than 50,000 people can log on to the website at once and the system is showing decreased error rates and improved response times for people who try to use it to buy health insurance.

Rogers also voiced concern about chronically ill people now covered in high-risk pools who’ll be required to purchase coverage as those pools are ended at year end under the Affordable Care Act.

“We’ve broken the system to help a few,” he contended, arguing that many Americans are “absolutely apoplectic” about their health insurance policies being cancelled.

Rebutting Rogers, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D- Md., said Republicans are continuing to “try to sabotage the entire effort, even though they don’t have an alternative.” He added that congressional Republicans “are not trying to work with us to address these issues” of getting people enrolled in health insurance coverage. “Yes, there are problems – there’s no denying that -- let’s work to fix them. We know what it looks like when they’re fixed. It looks like California, it looks like New York, its looks like Kentucky.”

The Maryland Democrat said, “The administration has hit the big benchmarks they set out: 50,000 people at one time, 800,000 people a day. Look, this is going to take some time before it’s up and kicking and in full gear.”

Van Hollen said, “I think what we have to look at is those states where you have well-functioning web sites, like California, like New York, like Kentucky—all of them are signing people up, all of them have a good mix of people.”

But Van Hollen did admit that the state-administered insurance enrollment process in his own state of Maryland is having serious problems. “Maryland’s a mess, there’s no doubt about it,” he noted.