Stolen Laptop Contains Information for Medi-Cal Beneficiaries

May 31, 2005

The Department of Health Services last week began notifying 21,600 Medi-Cal beneficiaries that a laptop computer containing their names, social security numbers and personal health information was stolen on April 15, the Sacramento Bee reports.

The computer, which was stolen from the locked trunk of a claims processor's car, requires a user name and password to access Medi-Cal beneficiary information. State officials said there is no evidence that any personal information stored on the computer has been misused.

This is the most recent of seven reported security lapses in state computer systems over the past year, the Bee reports.

Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) said she will introduce a bill that would require California agencies and contractors to encrypt all personal information stored on laptops. "It is the state's responsibility to be a good steward of Californians' personal information, and encryption is an easy, effective way to prevent fraud," Speier said.

DHS spokesperson Ken August said Electronic Data Systems, the company that processes claims for Medi-Cal, was voluntarily encrypting Medi-Cal information included on laptops when the theft occurred (Delsohn, Sacramento Bee, 5/28).

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