SAN FERNANDO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Today, following his work in the San Fernando Valley that saw more than 1,000 area families enrolled in health insurance, Congressman Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley, Calif.) called on the State of California to ensure those families’ identities are protected.

U.S. Rep. Tony CardenasCárdenas, a member of the Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, was joined by Reps. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Richmond), who serves on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Judy Chu (D-Los Angeles), of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, and Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), who also serves, as a ranking subcommittee member, on the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The members wrote a letter to Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee today, calling on the state health exchange to take exceptional care in a proposed data-mining operation that will provide more information about health care consumers in the state.

“We understand how critical it is to uphold the highest quality of care possible for patients; however, we are concerned about the cybersecurity and privacy risks involved in collecting such a large volume of sensitive data,” the letter read in part.

The members were troubled by recent cyberattacks on California patients. The attacks included the hack of nearly 19 million Americans who used Anthem and Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance, and a recent hack of the UCLA hospital system that has endangered the records of more than 4 million Californians.

“The Affordable Care Act has allowed thousands of Californians to get good, affordable health care,” said Cárdenas. “To improve coverage and care, we have to better understand them as health care consumers. However, we know that hackers are focusing on health records. The state and Covered California absolutely must take every step possible to ensure these records are completely protected during any data mining operations.”

According to a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, more than 1.84 million people were affected by medical identity theft in 2012, a number expected to continue rising.

Last year, Cárdenas passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that required the Department of Defense to work with the Small Business Administration to research the need for cyberattack education and training in small businesses throughout the United States.

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