How much can the Affordable Care Act wind-up costing you? In one instance, getting an answer means getting into the story about at least one Obamacare contractor. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (online, Apr. 20; article by Chuch Raasch) Serco, a British based concern operated under a five-year agreement, “worth up to $1.2 billion,” . . . “to process applications for the Affordable Care Act. It was paid $114 million for the first year of the contract and $98 million for the current year, with annual renewal options.”
Maybe no one would have paid much notice until the whistleblowing by ACA processing workers began in Wentzville, Mo. The St. Louis Post Dispatch elaborates: ”Lavonne Takatz, who had worked at Wentzville from October 2013 to April, 2014 said: We played Pictionary. We played 20 Questions. We played Trivial Pursuit.”
Also, according to Raasch’s story, “From May 1 through Aug. 15 last year, workers in the Wentzville facility logged 13,228.25 hours of overtime to process ‘backlogged inconsistency work.’” This information comes from a report by Serco Inc. itself. Serco operated the contracting services for the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (or CMS) in Wentzville.
CMS would wind up prohibiting Serco officials from responding to reports of waste. Yet, a CMS spokesperson said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “the company was not denying the reports of what happened.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch also filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests – this following allegations made by whistle blowers, “that workers in Wentzville were playing games or purposely working slowly because they had so little to do.” Back in February of this year, Serco said such “slow-downs” were because of computer-based issues, but that, while disputing the such claims, took such allegations to heart, retraining its employees to perform other job functions, so says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.