'Obamacare' contractors project confidence - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

'Obamacare' contractors project confidence

Posted: Updated:
Photo Credit: MGNOnline.com Photo Credit: MGNOnline.com

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Major contractors hooking up the internal plumbing of President Barack Obama's health care law projected confidence Tuesday that they will be ready to go by an Oct. 1 deadline, even though the system is still being tested.

With just three weeks to go before new state health insurance markets launch, efforts are ongoing to reliably link up government agencies, the markets themselves and private health plans.

The congressional Government Accountability Office warned this summer that with so much work left for the last minute, the timely and smooth launch of the markets could not be guaranteed. Still, with the president's image at stake, his administration is working all out to deliver.

Representatives of four big contractors testified in a rare joint appearance Tuesday before the House Energy and Commerce committee. Republicans who run the panel billed the hearing as a "pulse check" on Obama's law. The contractors have routinely ignored media requests to explain their work, but they could not rebuff Congress.

A private consulting firm that is advising states also separately said it expects a rocky launch, due in part to the sheer scope of technicalities in the system.

Obama's health care law will provide subsidized private coverage for middle-class people who don't get health insurance from employers. Low-income people will be steered to an expanded version of Medicaid in states that accepted it.

The insurance marketplaces that launch Oct. 1 are supposed to be the gateway to the new system. People can apply online, through a call center, in person, or on paper. Thirty percent of applicants are expected to use paper.

Coverage takes effect Jan 1. At that time, insurers will be forbidden from turning away people in poor health and virtually all Americans will be required to carry health insurance or face fines. Two recent independent studies of rates already filed by insurers indicate plenty of low-premium plans will be available, but consumers who pick them will face high deductibles and copayments.

The four contractors each said they would be ready, and said they have strong safeguards in place to protect the privacy of personal data - an issue Republicans have lately raised as a potential vulnerability.

Cheryl Campbell, a senior vice president of CGI Federal, Inc., said her company is "confident" its part of the job will be ready Oct.1. The Virginia-based contractor is building the federally run marketplace, with Washington running the markets or taking the lead in 35 states.

Michael Finkel, an executive vice president of QSSI, Inc., delivered a status report on the lynchpin of the system, a federal data hub that functions as the router for verifying key eligibility data. The hub will ping federal agencies such as Social Security, Homeland Security and the Internal Revenue Service to verify identity, legal residence and income. Finkel said his Maryland-based company expects the hub to be ready as planned.

John Lau, program director for Serco, said his company is staffing up to handle paper applications and other tasks.

Lynn Spellecy, a corporate lawyer for Equifax Workforce Solutions, said the subsidiary of the well-known credit reporting company is ready to help verifying income and employment.

But Brett Graham of the consulting firm Leavitt Partners said the markets can expect a rocky debut. He cited the system's massive complexity, timely and accurate verification of personal details for millions of people, and potential information security risks.

His company is founded by former Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, and is advising many states.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Avoyelles business to get $1.3 million loan

    Avoyelles business to get $1.3 million loan

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 5:36 PM EDT2014-04-15 21:36:24 GMT
    ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB News Channel 5)- Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will present an Avoyelles Parish business with a $1.3 million Business & Industry Guaranteed Loan.More >>
    ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB News Channel 5)- An Avoyelles Parish woman with a successful business in Bunkie will now have the opportunity to start another business in the small community. It's thanks to her hard work and the help of the government.More >>
  • Man arrested for bringing marijuana inside Rapides Courthouse

    Man arrested for bringing marijuana inside Rapides Courthouse

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 6:23 PM EDT2014-04-15 22:23:40 GMT
    ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB News Channel 5) - On Tuesday April 15, at approximately 8:50 a.m., a deputy assigned to Courthouse Security was working the metal detector when a subject that was attempting to enterMore >>
    ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB News Channel 5) - On Tuesday April 15, at approximately 8:50 a.m., a deputy assigned to Courthouse Security was working the metal detector when a subject that was attempting to enter the courthouse for business, kept setting off the detector.More >>
  • Father fatally stabbed protecting homeless man

    Father fatally stabbed protecting homeless man

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 6:32 PM EDT2014-04-15 22:32:13 GMT
    RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (CBS News) - A southern California father was stabbed to death outside a pool hall early Sunday when he tried to stop a group of men from harassing a homeless man, reports CBSMore >>
    RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (CBS News) - A southern California father was stabbed to death outside a pool hall early Sunday when he tried to stop a group of men from harassing a homeless man, reports CBS Los Angeles.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KALB. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.