GAO: Privacy breaches widespread among Medicare contractors

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Privacy breaches involving the personal health information of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries is prevalent, according to a new survey of state agencies and federal contractors for the programs.

The Government Accountability Office report found that 47% of Medicare managed care contractors reported privacy breaches in the last two years. Also 44% of the state agencies that administer Medicaid and 42% of Medicare fee-for-service contractors reported breaches.

Most of the security breaches occurred when the insurers outsourced health records to other companies for processing. The GAO report recommended that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services improve its oversight of breaches with Medicare contractors and for state Medicaid agencies.