GAO: Poor electronic safeguards leave Medicare data open to fraud

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Medical and financial information on Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries is at risk because of security flaws, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

In the report, the GAO says there are weaknesses in electronic access controls at the Department of Health and Human Services. These vulnerabilities have extended to controls designed to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of sensitive information.

"Instead of firewalls to safeguard sensitive data, we have Swiss cheese," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-IA). He requested the GAO investigation that resulted in the report's release.

In the report, the GAO recommends that HHS implement a comprehensive information security program. The GAO paper can be seen at