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Investigation into Congress health data breach could take weeks

A hacker who gained access to the District of Columbia’s health insurance portal may have collected the personal information of several members of Congress and their families.

WASHINGTON (CN) —  Although congressional leadership is spearheading an investigation into last week’s data breach that may have included the personal information of several lawmakers, it could be a while before that inquiry reaches any conclusions, the head of the House’s personnel committee said Tuesday.

The House Administration Committee has taken steps to address the breach, which occurred March 8 and affected users of Washington's online health insurance marketplace known as D.C. Health Link. The leak could threaten the personal identifying information of members of Congress, their families and staffers.

Personal identifying information refers to any data that could assist in determining an individual’s identity — such as a Social Security number, street address or credit card number.

The D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority, which oversees D.C. Health Link, said Friday that more than 56,000 people had their data leaked in the breach. About 11,000 of those are members of Congress, congressional employees or relatives.

“Immediately after learning of the breach, congressional leadership responded with a strong, nonpartisan response to ensure accountability and security,” administration committee chair Bryan Steil said in a statement Tuesday.

Congress is working alongside the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, U.S. Capitol Police and House Sergeant at Arms to determine how far the data breach went, Steil said, but that result could still be some time away.

“The investigation is ongoing and it may take weeks to fully understand the impact,” the Wisconsin Republican said.

In the meantime, D.C. Health Link has said that it will provide free credit monitoring to all members of Congress to catch any suspicious activity.

“I'm committed to protecting this institution,” Steil said. “Moving forward, the Committee on House Administration will take action to hold bad actors accountable and avoid this occurring again in the future.”

D.C Health Link was founded in 2012 at the direction of the Affordable Care Act, which stood up health insurance marketplaces aimed at giving customers the ability to easily find affordable coverage.

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