By Rebecca Mayo, J.D.
CMS announced a breach of the Federally Facilitated Exchanges (FFEs) or FFE’s Direct Enrollment pathway for agents and brokers which resulted in approximately 75,000 individuals’ files being accessed. The FFE and Direct Enrollment pathway were launched as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) to allow agents and brokers to assist consumers with applications for coverage. While the 75,000 individuals’ files that were accessed represent only a small fraction of consumer records on the FFE, CMS Administrator Seema Verma noted that any breach of the system is unacceptable. In a press release, Verma stated that CMS’s "number one priority is the safety and security of the Americans [CMS] serves."
Breach. CMS began investigating anomalous system activity in the Direct Enrollment pathway on October 13, 2018 and a breach was declared on October 16, 2018. Standard and appropriate security and risk protocols for researching and reporting the incident were followed. Immediate steps were taken to secure the system and consumer information while CMS continues to investigate the incident. The agent and broker accounts associated with the anomalous activity were deactivated and the Direct Enrollment pathway for agents and brokers was disabled.
Impact. CMS is working to identify individuals potentially impacted as quickly as possible so they can be notified and resources such as credit protection can be provided. In the meantime, Healthcare.gov and the Marketplace Call Center will remain operational and CMS does not believe open enrollment will be negatively impacted. CMS will continue working to address the issue, implement additional security measures, and restore the Direct Enrollment pathway for agents and brokers.
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