GOP lawmakers raise concerns with health law contractor

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The company was recently acquired by UnitedHealth, and some have alleged that it could unfairly boost that firm's insurance business, UnitedHealthcare, in the federal exchange.

"This contract creates a situation whereby the exchange's ultimate designer, QSSI, is in a position to tailor the system to favor the interests of its parent company, UnitedHealth Group, and further maintain a monopoly over information that is unavailable to competitors," the lawmakers wrote Monday.

Letters went to both QSSI and UnitedHealth Group.

Grassley and Upton asked the firms to explain if they have taken steps to mitigate potential conflicts of interest and whether there are mechanisms in place to ensure QSSI's independence from UnitedHealthcare.

The lawmakers also asked the companies if they have communicated with federal health officials about QSSI's acquisition or potential conflicts of interest.

Grassley and Upton are not the first GOP lawmakers to show interest in the QSSI-UnitedHealth nexus. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), who leads the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, have also expressed concerns.

UnitedHealth Group responded to the Grassley-Upton letters with a statement.

"Putting our customers’ secure and proprietary interests first is a hallmark of our service and has earned us the strong confidence and trust of those we serve every day," said spokesman Matt Stearns.

"Our customers and system partners embrace our solutions and services because of the value, expertise and trusted partnership we provide. We look forward to responding to [lawmakers'] questions."

—This post was updated at 7:18 p.m.