Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE
Chaos continues at healthcare.gov with the sudden departure of QSSI. QSSI was a minor hub manger of healthcare.gov in early 2014 when the site was failing. It became the major integrator and senior advisor.
CGI was the major integrator at first. Michelle Obama’s college friend was a principle in CGI. The friend obtained the non-bid CGI contract. CGI was dismissed as the web site disaster unveiled itself. The contract was for more than $600 million dollars.
QSSI is a subsidiary of Optum the IT healthcare arm of healthcare insurance company United Healthcare.
Andy Slavitt, a senior executive at Optum, joined CMS in June 2014. He had subsequently been heralded by CMS as the savior of healthcare.gov
He received a rare waiver from federal ethics rules at the time which allowed him to be involved in contracting issues involving Optum and the United Healthcare Group.
Andy Slavitt was initially hired as deputy administrator of CMS. He was promoted to acting administrator when Marilyn Tavenenner left.
There has always been a question of conflict of interest between Slavitt , Optum and United Healthcare. It is not clear if Andy Slavitt is still at CMS.
“Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Orrin Hatch of Utah, asked CMS and United Health Group in June 2014 about Slavitt’s potential conflicts of interest.”
The answer to Senator Grassly and Hatch’s questions were never made public.
A scandal occurred recently when 800,000 Obamacare enrollees received incorrect subsidy information on the 1095-A tax forms sent by the federal exchange healthcare.gov.
Some enrollees were mistakenly told they received too large a subsidy, while others were told their subsidy was too small.
Publicity of this error was buried in the news that the Obamacare enrollment period for 2015 healthcare insurance was being extended until April 30th, after initially being extended to February 15th.
The real reason for the extension appears to be poor enrollment in healthcare.gov despite the administration bragging that the enrollment was great.
One month later Optum suddenly quit.
An Optum spokesman said,
“Having achieved the goal of making HealthCare.gov a stable, reliable platform for people seeking health coverage, Optum will not seek to continue our role as senior adviser to HealthCare.gov,”
This isn’t the first time this has happened. Jeff Zients took over when healthcare.gov was launch in October 2013.
In December 2013 Zients, who Obama had turned to in the past to fix sticky issues, had “made it clear that he was not going to stay on the job past December.”
Kathleen Sebelius said in a blog post,
The Obama administration then announced that former Microsoft executive Kurt DelBene took over the operation of HealthCare.gov in December 2013 in consultation with Marilyn Traverner and QSSI.
Somewhere in 2014 CGI was rehired and DelBene left. QSSI remained.
CGI was then relieved in December 2014.
Accenture was hired. In December 2014 Accenture was rehired with a $563 million dollar contract to run healthcare.gov.
“The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in January dropped a key contractor on the project, CGI Federal, and selected Accenture Federal Services to rehabilitate and build out the portal.”
Suddenly, in May 2015, QSSI quit.
This all seems fishy to me. The price tag of more than $1.1 billion dollar for healthcare.gov seems very high. The web site is still incomplete. The healthcare insurance premiums are unaffordable and rising.
Consumers and physicians do not approve of Obamacare.
State exchanges are losing money they cannot afford. There is little evidence that the electronic medical records program is increasing the quality of medical care.
The individual health insurance market through healthcare.gov is a mess.
The public does not know how many people are uninsured, have become uninsured and do not have access to medical care.
Obamacare has been delayed in the group market. Private insurance has increased in price. Large corporations are increasing part-time employment to avoid paying for employees’ healthcare insurance and to avoid federal government penalties.
Yet, the Obama spin machine is trying to influence the public and the Supreme Court through the media saying the subsidy should be extended to the Federal Health Exchanges.
It all seems crazy to me. There is a better, more efficient way to help Americans purchase insurance and be protected in case of serious illness.
It is not a government run single party payer system. The government cannot even build an efficient website.
The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.
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