Topics: Obamacare

Insurance industry sources dispute CMS, Obamacare contractor claims that data problems are 'isolated'

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An executive of the largest contractor working on the federal health insurance exchange website told Congress Thursday that problems with erroneous enrollment information being transferred to insurance companies were “isolated” - a claim later echoed by an Obama administration official.

But insurance industry officials have told the Washington Examiner that this is simply not true. The problems – such as duplicate enrollments being sent from the federal system to insurers, incorrect cancellations, and spouses being mixed up as children – were in fact being widely encountered across the insurance industry.

Cheryl Campbell, senior vice president of CGI Federal, which received the primary contract for building the troubled, testified in a House Energy and Commerce committee hearing on the troubled rollout of President Obama's health care law.

Asked by Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., about problems with the data being sent to insurers, Campbell downplayed the issues that have been the subject of numerous media reports.

“We have uncovered a number of those scenarios – not significant – but a number of those scenarios,” Campbell said. “And we are in the process of making corrections. Most of them are isolated, they are not across the board for all insurers. So, we are working on solving those as they come to our attention.”

She later reiterated that the problems were “more isolated than widespread.”

Similarly, during a conference call with journalists later in the day, Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, echoed Campbell in suggesting the problems weren't significant.

“This is a fairly isolated issue and we are working everyday with the issuers to make improvements to their own process and we will work with them together so we get an understanding of what they’re seeing as we put changes in place,” she said.

An insurance industry source who requested anonymity pushed back against these accounts, saying the flawed data occurrences were not isolated by any stretch of the imagination.

In addition, Robert Laszewski, a health care consultant who has been in close contact with insurance executives, told the Examiner that he was astounded by the claims of CGI and CMS.

“That's incredible,” he wrote. “The error rate is 50 percent on enrollments coming through and the carriers can't go to automated processing until the error rate gets below 5 percent — really below 1 percent ... I cannot believe CGI is saying there isn't a problem.”

Bataille also claimed concerning the errors that “we have been told that it is getting better.”

But the industry source who spoke to the Examiner said there has been no real improvement since last week.

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Philip Klein

Commentary Editor
The Washington Examiner