Network Security, Vulnerability Management

Inspector General’s report documents security flaws at Arizona Medicare MCOs


A recent risk assessment of information systems at two Arizona-based Medicaid managed care organizations turned up 19 vulnerabilities, according to a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General.

Collectively, the flaws were related to remote network access (2), password and login controls (2), physical security controls (1), network device configurations (4), patch management (1), antivirus management (1), server security management (2), database management (3) and website security (3).

"Our consolidated findings from the reviews of the MCOs show significant vulnerabilities in the MCOs’ information systems, and raise concerns about the integrity of the systems used to process Medicaid managed care claims," the report states. "Some of the same vulnerabilities were identified at both MCOs, suggesting that other Arizona MCO information systems may be similarly vulnerable."

"Additionally, existing Federal regulations treat the security of Medicaid data differently depending on whether the data reside at the State agencies or at the MCOs. This disparate application of security requirements for Medicaid data could affect State-MCO relationships nationwide and could increase risk to Medicaid patient data," the report continues.

In the report, the OIG recommended that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) conduct its own risk assessment to look for inconsistencies in the application of federal data security requirements, and also to share the details of OIG's findings with state agencies. The CMS concurred with the latter recommendation, but not with the former, arguing that risk assessments are already required under the jurisdiction of the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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