Senators want inquiry into O-Care center paid to sit and hit refresh

Getty Images

A pair of Republican Senators want an investigation into reports that employees at a Missouri ObamaCare processing center are getting paid to do virtually nothing.
 
Recent reports by St. Louis’s KMOV have revealed employees don't have the workload they expected at the center, which was awarded a $1.25 billion contract to handle paper insurance applications under the Affordable Care Act.

ADVERTISEMENT
However, British outsourcing company Serco, which runs the facility in Wentzville, Mo., has allegedly told employees to stay put and continue refreshing their computers for new cases.

Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the ranking member on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, wrote a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner Wednesday asking the agency to detail when it became aware of the problems and what it is doing to address them.

“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,” write the senators.

They also noted Serco’s parent company, Serco Group, is under investigation for fraud in the U.K. for allegedly providing security monitoring of criminals who were dead, in prison or were not tagged to be monitored.

The senators also asked if the CMS was aware of other such facilities where allegations of waste and fraud have been made, and what actions the agency was prepared to take to recoup wasted taxpayer dollars.

The Wentzville facility has 660 Serco workers who process paper aplications, verify insurance information, resolve conflicts of information, and call consumers to get missing information and other necessary documents.

“CMS is committed to working with Serco, and all of its contractor partners, to ensure that federal funds are spent appropriately and performance expectations are clear and monitored closely,” said a CMS spokesperson. “We closely monitor the work Serco is doing relative to the number of employees they have, and we are confident that the balance is appropriate.” 

The CMS has until May 30 to respond to the letter.

— This article was updated at 1:51 pm.