Topics: Obamacare

Darrell Issa warns Kathleen Sebelius she could face perjury charges over Obamacare testimony

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Joel Gehrke,Obamacare,Darrell Issa

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius could face perjury charges over her congressional testimony on Obamacare, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., warned in a letter calling for Sebelius to correct the record.

“Witnesses who purposely give false or misleading testimony during a congressional hearing may be subject to criminal liability under Section 1001 of Title of 18 of the U.S. Code, which prohibits ‘knowingly and willfully’ making materially false statements to Congress,” Issa wrote in a Wednesday letter. “With that in mind, I write to request that you correct the record and to implore you to be truthful with the American public about matters related to Obamacare going forward."

Issa focused on Sebelius' testimony about launching the healthcare.gov federal exchange website despite the existence of technical problems that marred the Obamacare rollout.

“Providing false or misleading testimony to Congress is a serious matter,” Issa writes. “Documents and testimony obtained by the Committee, including information provided by Teresa Fryer, the Chief Information Security Officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the MITRE Corporation, a contractor hired by HHS to conduct security assessments of healthcare.gov, show that your testimony was false and misleading.”

HHS promised to respond to the letter. "Regarding the issues raised in the partial transcript excerpts referenced in the letter—as we have said repeatedly, including when these issues were first reported several weeks ago—the HealthCare.gov components that are operational have been determined to be compliant with the Federal Information Security Management Act, based on standards promulgated by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology," Joanne Peters, the national press secretary for health care at HHS, told the Washington Examiner in an email.

Sebelius' claim that MITRE conducted "ongoing testing" of the Obamacare website was false, Issa said, citing Fryer's testimony to committee staff that the company only did testing by rounds, with the last pre-launch round taking place on Sep. 20. The next round did not begin until Dec. 10.

Issa also said that Sebelius' claim that MITRE recommended HHS proceed with the launch of the website was also false, because MITRE says it was never consulted.

The Republican investigator also disputes Sebelius' statement that “no one… suggested that the risks outweighed the importance of moving forward."

"[Fryer] was very concerned about the problems raised by MITRE during its security testing of the system," the letter states.

Issa also quotes from a Sep. 24 memo written by Fryer, who concluded that the health care website "does not reasonably meet the CMS security requirements," adding that "there is also no confidence that Personal Identifiable Information will be protected."

"There have been no successful security attacks on Healthcare.gov and no person or group has maliciously accessed personally identifiable information," Peters countered in her email. "An independent security control assessor tested each piece of the Healthcare.gov system that went live Oct. 1 prior to that date with no open high findings. All high, moderate and low security risk findings listed on the SCAs for the portions of the website that launched Oct. 1 were either fixed, or have strategies and plans in place to fix the findings that meet industry standards."

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