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Personal information of members of Congress exposed in health data breach

House staffers were informed Thursday that there was a significant data breach would potentially potentially exposed their personal identifiable information.
NICHOLAS KAMM
/
AFP via Getty Images
House staffers were informed Thursday that there was a significant data breach would potentially potentially exposed their personal identifiable information.

Updated March 11, 2023 at 12:58 PM ET

Members of the House of Representatives and their staffers were informed Wednesday their personal data may have been compromised due to a "significant data breach" by DC Health Link, a health insurance marketplace.

On Friday, DC Health Link said 56,415 customers were impacted. Some of the data that was compromised include Social Security number, date of birth, gender, health plan and employer information, citizenship status, race and contact information.

Not all of those fields were necessarily compromised for each affected customer, DC Health Link said.

In a letter to House staff obtained by NPR, Catherine Szpindor, the chief administrative officer for the House, notified members "that account information and PII (Personal Identifiable Information) of hundreds of Member and House staff were stolen."

"It is important to note that at this time, it does not appear that Members or the House of Representatives were the specific target of the attack," Szpindor said in the letter.

She advised those affected to freeze their family's credit through all major credit bureaus.

The Senate Sergeant at Arms was also informed by law enforcement of the DC Health Link data breach, although it appears to be more limited for those who work in the Senate.

In a memo sent to all Senate email account holders that was obtained by NPR, users were told that the breach did not include personally identifiable information beyond names, email, date of enrollment and family relationship to those affected.

In a statement, DC Health Link said it has notified impacted customers. Its investigation is ongoing.

"We have reached out to impacted enrollees to provide three years of free identity and credit monitoring for all three major credit bureaus," DC Health Link said in a statement. "In addition, and out of an abundance of caution, we are offering the same three years of monitoring to all other customers, who were not impacted."

At his weekly press conference Thursday morning, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said he and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are "going to continue to work on this issue in a bipartisan way, get to the bottom of what happened, figure out the implications of what has occurred."

"It will have an adverse impact on hundreds, if not thousands, of staff members, their families, and/or the people of the District of Columbia, and that is highly problematic," Jeffries said.

NPR's Claudia Grisales and Kaitlyn Radde contributed to this report.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.