Governor Shumlin issued the following statement Monday morning in response to Vermont Health Connect Commissioner Mark Larson’s letter to the House Health Care Committee. Larson had suggested to legislators that the Exchange’s online system was secure, though that turned out to be incorrect. A security breach occurred in October. On November 5, Larson offered the incorrect testimony to legislators. Larson apologized in a letter sent to legislators Sunday. House Speaker Shap Smith also issued a blistering response to Larson’s previous testimony.At a House Health Care Committee meeting November 5, Representative Mary Morrissey, R-Bennington, directly asked Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) Commissioner Larson if there had been any security breaches with Vermont Health Connect.Larson told her there hadn’t been, failing to disclose the October 17 incident in which one user was able to access another user’s social security information.Governor Shumlin stated: ‘I take this incident extremely seriously. It is unacceptable to be anything less than fully cooperative and transparent with Vermonters and their elected representatives in the Legislature. I am tremendously disappointed in Commissioner Larson’s lapse of judgment in this matter. The legislators in Montpelier represent the Vermonters we are all elected to serve, and they have a right to have their questions answered fully. That did not happen in this case, and I have made clear to Mark and other members of my administration that it must never happen again.’ Governor Shumlin, left, with Mark Larson in October. vtdigger.org photo‘I know that Mark, as a former legislator and House Health Care Committee chair, values and appreciates the importance of being forthcoming with legislators. I take him at his word that his comments were not meant to deceive. As the Commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access, Mark has worked extremely hard over the past months under incredibly difficult circumstances; this incident is not reflective of his many years of admirable public service. I am confident he will take the steps to remedy this situation and work to regain the trust of the legislature.’ ‘I was unaware of Commissioner Larson’s specific testimony in question until Saturday. Regarding the privacy incident itself, my staff briefed me on it shortly after it occurred. I received updates as the incident was investigated, and I was relieved to learn that it was isolated, involved two individuals, and was not caused by any malicious or intentional breach of the site’s security. I learned that the situation was promptly remedied, that the two individuals involved had been contacted, that the incident was reported as required, and that CMS considered it closed.’ “I take the security of Vermonters’ information incredibly seriously. This isolated incident, while of course concerning in its own right, did not at the time, and does not currently, cause me to have broader concerns about the security of Vermont Health Connect.’ This incident was promptly identified and resolved, and I was disappointed to learn that Commissioner Larson did not adequately disclose the circumstances of it when asked about this topic in committee earlier this month.’ “In Vermont, the trust between the different branches of government is stronger than in many states or in Washington. We often point to our tradition of cooperation and sensible discourse as a model for the nation and a mark of pride for Vermonters.’ I sincerely hope this situation will be seen for the mistake it was and will not adversely affect that tradition.”Speaker Smith said: ‘Vermonters have an expectation that those testifying in front of the legislature, particularly public officials, will do so accurately and in a forthright manner.’ Commissioner Larson did not meet those expectations when he testified in the House Health Care Committee on November 5th.’ This failure is particularly troubling coming from a friend, former legislative colleague and Chair of the committee.’ “Incidents such as this erode the public’s confidence in their officials.’ I have spoken with Commissioner Larson and Governor Shumlin and have shared with them my view that this incident is unacceptable.’ I have also expressed my view that a breach such as this will undermine Commissioner Larson’s ability to be an effective representative for the administration in the Legislature.’ It is now incumbent on Commissioner Larson to work to rebuild the trust he once had with his legislative colleagues.’vtdigger.org contributed to this report.