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February 09, 2024

King, Rubio Introduce Legislation to Improve Health Care Cybersecurity

Legislation comes as several Maine health care systems have been breached in last few months

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Angus King (I-ME), Co-Chair of the Cybersecurity Solarium Commission and a member of the Senate Armed Services (SASC) and Intelligence Committees (SSCI), and Marco Rubio (R-FL), today introduced legislation to protect U.S. healthcare systems from hackers and other bad actors. The Strengthening Cybersecurity in Health Care Act would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) perform consistent evaluations of its cybersecurity systems, and provide biannual reports on its current practices and progress on future safety procedures they are working to implement.

Recent reporting has indicated an exponential increase in cybersecurity attacks against healthcare systems across the country, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In 2023, approximately 133 million people had their health data, such as Medicare beneficiary data, social security numbers, and medical records breached. As the agency tasked with keeping Americans’ personal health information safe, HHS must be equipped to combat the latest hacking strategies.

“In recent years, several of Maine’s major healthcare providers have been the victims of cyberattacks. This threat to America’s critical infrastructure is real, and could literally mean the difference between life and death — we must take proactive steps to enhance the cybersecurity of our healthcare and public health sectors,” said Senator King. “The bipartisan Strengthening Cybersecurity in Health Care Act would help ensure that health institutions have the resources to keep patient data safe. As the number of threats continues to grow, consistent evaluations will prove to be a lifeline to the medical community treating our family and friends.”

“Since the pandemic, we have seen a rise in the number of cyberattacks against our healthcare systems. I am proud to introduce the bipartisan Strengthening Cybersecurity in Health Care Act. This legislation aims to reassure the American people by better safeguarding their sensitive information, ensuring peace of mind during these ever changing times,” Senator Rubio said.

Just last week, Northern Light Health computers were compromised via a server breach, but patient records were not affected. Northern Light Health is one of the latest Maine health care systems, including Mount Desert Island Hospital and others, to become victim to a cyber attack — underscoring the importance of strong cybersecurity efforts to protect Maine patients from bad actors.

As Co-Chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC), Senator King is recognized as one of Congress’ leading experts on cyberdefense and as a strong advocates for a forward-thinking cyberstrategy that emphasizes layered cyberdeterrence. Since it officially launched in April 2019dozens of CSC recommendations have been enacted into law, including the creation of a National Cyber Director. Together with Solarium Co-Chair Representative Mike Gallagher, King previously urged the Biden Administration to better protect the public health sector from cyber threats and called for stronger, collaborative efforts to address the growing threat.


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