The PJ Tatler

Senators Want CMS Probe Into Obamacare Processing Employees Getting Paid to Do Nothing

The Department of Health and Human Services is under fire from Congress after a report that Obamacare processing center employees are being paid to slack all day.

KMOV-TV in St. Louis broke a whistleblower report saying that workers at a Serco health insurance application processing center located in Wenztville, Mo., are being paid to do nothing.

“The main thing is that the Data Entry side does not have hardly any work to do. They’re told to sit at their computers and hit the refresh button every ten minutes- no more than every ten minutes. They’re monitored to hopefully look for an application. Their goals are set to process two applications per month and some people are not even able to do that,” an employee told the station.

Serco is working under a 12-year, $1.25 billion contract to process Obamacare paper applications.

The employee also told KMOV that workers are similarly idle at two other Serco facilities in Kentucky and Oklahoma. “With everybody that’s working probably 1,800 people [are] trying to get 1 of 30 applications that pop up.  There’s just not enough here.”

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt (R) and Lamar Alexander, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), sent a letter to Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Marilyn Tavenner this week pressing for information on the “alarming report.”

“We are concerned Serco may have much less work than was expected when CMS awarded the contract, and may not be successfully completing the applications it has received.  According to a December 12, 2013, article in The Washington Post, there was a backlog of 50,000 – 60,000 paper health insurance applications at the time, with many of those customers unaware of their application status.  Despite this alarming backlog, it appears that fewer people were submitting paper applications than anticipated.  CMS data released on December 11 show that between October 1 – November 30, only 17 percent of exchange applications were submitted on paper – far below the one-in-three rate projected by the Congressional Budget Office in May 2013,” the senators wrote.

“CMS awarded Serco a contract despite the fact that Serco’s parent company, Serco Group plc, was placed under firm review in July 2013 after a British government audit found the company was charging for services it did not provide.  The probe by Britain’s chief procurement officer should raise more questions about Serco’s effort to implement Obamacare.  CMS spokesman Brian Cook defended the Serco contract at the time, saying, ‘Serco is a highly skilled company that has a proven track record in providing cost-effective services to numerous other (U.S.) federal agencies.'”

They asked for a detailed reply by May 30 on a number of questions, including whether CMS was aware of the employees lazing about and how much the agency has already paid to Serco.