June 07--HARTFORD -- Officials at the Connecticut outfit that administers Obamacare said Saturday they were unable to say at this time whether the personal information found in a backpack on Trumbull Street was connected to an effort to steal personal information.
The backpack, found Friday, appears to have contained four notepads with personal account information for about 400 people associated with Access Health CT, the state's health insurance exchange, the chief executive of the exchange, Kevin Counihan, said in an emailed statement.
"It appears as though some of that personal information may be associated with Access Health CT accounts," Counihan said.
He said the exchange received a report earlier in the day that an individual had discovered the backpack on Trumbull Street.
"It is still unclear where the backpack came from, and we are working with the Hartford Police Department to investigate, and to contact the individuals whose information may be compromised," the release said.
Friday afternoon, Access Health CT spokeswoman Kathleen Tallarita said she did not know exactly what time the backpack was found or how close it had been to the exchange's office at 280 Trumbull St. Reached by phone, Counihan referred questions to Tallarita.
Hartford police sent officers to the exchange office about 2:15 p.m. to meet with an Access Health CT employee "regarding an employee possibly taking customers' personal information," Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley said in a written release Friday afternoon.
Foley said handwritten notes in the backpack included "possible customer information for Access Health CT, including people's names, dates of birth and some Social Security numbers."
"It is unknown if anybody's personal information was compromised at this point," Foley said.
The circumstances surrounding the backpack's discovery were unclear, as was the reason Hartford police are involved in he case.
In his written statement, Counihan said he had directed staff to work with Maximus, the exchange's call center vendor, and the exchange's outreach team to address the issue of any potential identity theft.
Access Health CT said its legal department is filing required state and federal information breach reports.
"Let me be clear: We are sorry this happened," Counihan said. "This is a very serious situation and we will hold the person or persons who are responsible to account. We will work tirelessly until we have remedied this problem and can prevent any such reoccurrence."
Access Health CT is Connecticut's public health exchange. It is an online marketplace for health insurance and is the only place people can buy coverage in the state and get a tax credit, or subsidy, if they qualify. The Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare, called for state exchanges to bring price transparency and competition to the health insurance market.
During the enrollment period from October through March, 208,301 signed up for coverage through Access Health CT, which includes 78,713 who bought private plans and 129,588 who were income eligible for government-funded Medicaid.
Courant Staff Writers Nicholas Rondinone and Matthew Sturdevant contributed to this report.
(c)2014 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)
Visit The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.) at www.courant.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services