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ObamaCare Clusterfuck: Federal exchange call centers will be up by the end of June amidst secrecy about contracts, scripts


Within days, the company that handles an average of more than 60,000 calls daily about Medicare will be deluged by new inquiries about health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

The six Medicare call centers run by Vangent, a company based in Arlington, Va., will answer questions about the health care law from the 34 states that opted out of running their own online health insurance marketplaces or decided to operate them jointly with the federal government.

An HHS official said call-center representatives would "undergo extensive training" about the health law and basic insurance issues but could not provide more details.....

Neither Vangent nor HHS would provide specific requirements of the contract or a copy. Employment ads for the call centers' "temporary customer service representatives" seek applicants who have a high school diploma or equivalent and six months of telemarketing or secretarial experience.

An HHS spokeswoman said that customer service representatives will answer questions by reading from HHS-approved scripts and provide state-specific information. However, she would not provide examples of the scripts or say whether they were tested with consumers.

Neither Vut last month, the president of Maximus, a company that processes Medicare appeals, told investors that his firm received a government contract to operate the call centers with Vangent. Maximus officials declined to comment on that announcement or provide a copy of the contract. [So many middlemen, and they each take their cut!]

"It's going to take a lot of tender loving care to explain to folks [ugh] how to handle this, how to make the right choices, how to participate," said Richard Montoni, president of Maximus. "With the passage of time, those additional speed bumps will be ironed out and we will be out there running these programs as intended."

Everything's going to be fine.

If the call centers give me bad information, can I sue them?

NOTE Hat tip, Hipparchia.

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Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

work exactly as intended to work--muddy "accountability."

Read last week (a link posted here--don't remember which one) that some of the nonprofits will pay their "volunteers or employees" a set fee (was it $55.00?) for each successful health care application completed.

What a recipe for disaster!

Sounds like the so-called progressive organization that did that for "voter registration" a few years ago, and had apps for "Mickey Mouse" or some such submitted (their "system" was lax enough that they paid the fee without examining the apps).

At any rate, sounds like the old factory "piece work" system of pay. Don't care for it on a number of levels.

Submitted by lambert on

Can you be more precise where you read it? I should post on that since it is indeed a recipe for disaster.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

Sorry, that's the best that I remember--and why I included the question mark--I was hoping that someone else would remember for sure, and be able to furnish the link.

Hey, just "Binged" the piece. I was "off $3"--they get $58 per app. ;-)

Call for screening of healthcare enrollers meets resistance

These enrollers, who will earn $58 from the state for every application completed, would have access to highly sensitive consumer information such as Social Security numbers, dates of birth, income data and tax returns.

The entire piece is rather interesting (and worrisome). Here's a second link below.

California to hire 20,000 Obamacare workers

These 20,000 assisters across California would not be government employees. Nonprofit and other community groups that are working with the state on outreach and enrollment will be responsible for recruiting and hiring many of them.

The Federalist references the LA Times piece.

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

I remember it because of the scandal during Giuliani's tenure in NYC. But apparently they've been scamming public contracts for quite some time.

Daily Kos, of all places, had a rundown this past December, 2012.

This would tend to confirm that ObamaCare is a scheme to distribute vast, vast quantities of taxpayer money to: (1) insurance companies, (2) corrupt "private" entities that make a living off public contracts (and/or have a solid track record of plundering the proceeds of those contracts for their private benefit); (3) creative classers and community organizations that are eligible for "walking around money" from the slush fund that ObamaCare evidently. As well, as we are learning, it's not so hidden agenda is to dismantle Medicare and Medicaid and to turn them over to (1) above, with derivative rents delivered to (2) and (3).

Nothing absolutely at all to do with delivering affordable health care to americans who can't afford private insurance -- au contraire, a scheme to turn Americans into third-world -- sick and poor -- people.

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

navigators and the people with 6 months of secretarial experience if they give us bad information?

That is a question I have been wondering about and one that I think we all should be on the alert for. Something tells me that ObamaCare -- clever and fiendish system that it is -- has baked in obscure provisions that manage to indemnify every one up and down the delivery chain of Obama"Care."

I would love to be proved wrong. For example, I would love to see a new page on the CFPB's and the FTC's websites telling us that they are looking out for us ObamaCare "customers" in case we are victims of consumer frauds related to ObamaCare, including but not limited to, signing up for an overprice piece of junk based on the advice of an ignorant navigator or call center person with a high school degree and 6 months of secretarial experience.

Nota Bene. I have already checked the National Consumer Law Center's website and there isn't a word about ObamaCare or its potential consumer-fraud pitfalls. Who knows, maybe Nader will step into this breach. It would be appropriate as ObamaCare's Insurance Products appear increasingly as though they are unhealthy and unfit at any price (or at any metal) -- "shocking" or not.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

answer, but Mr. Alexa (practically in another life, it was so long ago--was a securities and insurance broker) says that if they'd at least hire actual insurance professionals, they would be covered by "E & O" [Errors and Omissions] Insurance. Even many, many years ago, brokers and independent agents not covered under company policies, carried millions of dollars of E&O. The insurance itself was not that costly.

Otherwise, since it's very difficult to sue the federal government and get anywhere, even when the feds have DIRECT OVERSIGHT (and it appears that they are contracting that out), it would seem that there is little recourse. [I can give you several examples of how difficult that is from years with the DOD. But of course, the context was quite a bit different.]

Dunno, but would think that the use of "temps" (as in California) who are being paid "piecemeal," or by "app," would make it even more difficult.

Didn't someone put up a link that states that even the navigators won't "select plans" or advise the public on which policy to buy? Seems like I've read this, but I don't remember where. Maybe someone else will.

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

... and likely the case here.

One of the real reasons "privatization" has been so happily embraced by governments (besides the creation of rent streams for recipients of public money and the, erm, grantors of that public money/contracts aka future revolving-door people) is severing liability of gov agencies for, especially, torts.

DOD must be in a special category.

But you are right, suing government for anything has been made very difficult. But I still think it is important to expose the mechanics of ObamaCare insofar as they resemble an old fashioned consumer fraud on a massive scale. While remedies in the courts may be few and far between, sufficient exposure might trigger other levers of reddress, or persuade enough potential "customers" that they should enter this thicket of Obama Products with great, great, great, great, care and skepticism ... I refuse to stop dreaming!

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

I, too, would LOVE to see Nadar jump into the fray on the matter of accountability.

If only they would have gone with insurance professionals, accountability would have been "built into" the system.

What they've set up is not a system intended to insure its citizens. It's just another "public trough" for corporations and business interests to feed off!