July 17, 2013 By Michael Volpe
An information technology (IT) company in line to bid on billions in new contracts as a result of ObamaCare is the subject of a growing list of scandals and investigations in which its alleged that, among a number of abuses, the company has produced low ball bids in order to win Medicaid related contracts, only to create overages that balloon the expense of the project as it is implemented.
The name of the company is Client Network Services, Inc (CNSI) and it’s headquartered in Maryland. The company will be able to bid on billions in new ObamaCare-related IT contracts because, in order for states to receive new grants for expanded Medicaid rolls, ObamaCare requires states to have IT systems that are able to share data at so-called finger-tip access. Because most states have antiquated systems, such overhauls will often require the assistance of companies like CNSI.
In March, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal canceled one such contract between CNSI and his state after it came to light that a federal grand jury was investigating the relationship between one of his top aides and CNSI.
Aswell said he first became aware something was amiss in June 2011, when Bruce Greenstein went before the Louisiana Senate Governmental Affairs Committee to be confirmed as the secretary of Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH), the equivalent of the US Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary.
During the proceedings, things became contentious and confusing when Greenstein refused to divulge the recipient of a contract to upgrade the State of Louisiana’s antiquated computer system, which electronically processed Medicaid health care claims.
Greenstein went back and forth with lawmakers for quite a while before he finally admitted it was CNSI, his own former employer. He assured the state legislators at that hearing that he created a firewall between himself and his former employer during the contractual process.
That turned out not to be true, and, instead, in March 2013, news was leaked that a federal grand jury was investigating the potentially illegal relationship between Greenstein and CNSI during the process in which this contract was awarded.
Once that came to light, not only did Jindal cancel the contract, but Greenstein resigned shortly after. Aswell said that all sorts of issues were raised with CNSI’s bid ($194 million), and a number of people in the media raised concerns that CNSI would not be able to achieve the contract for the pre-arranged price.
In 2012, Southeast Michigan Healthcare Information Exchange (SEMHIE), a multi-stakeholder initiative trying to integrate a health information exchange throughout southeast Michigan, sued CNSI for breach of contract after CNSI allegedly failed to provide SEMHIE with prior agreed upon software. An email was left unreturned by SEMHIE for this story. Jennifer Bahrami, press secretary for CNSI, also didn’t respond to an email for comment for this story.
In 2011, CNSI was accused of lowballing a contract in South Dakota, only to have expenses increase exponentially as the project wore on. A local story on the affair explained:
The South Dakota Department of Social Services has paid $49.7 million so far for a new Medicaid processing system that at this point remains inoperable.
The original contract was for $62.7 million, but the new system is now expected to cost far in excess of $80 million to complete and will take two to three more years to get running, according to court documents filed as part of a lawsuit between the contractor and the department.
The most in-depth investigation of CNSI occurred in Maine in 2006, and it was conducted by the magazine CIO, a journal for IT professionals. In that piece, CIO concluded that not only did CNSI’s system end up costing 20% more than the company’s originally bid, but its implementation was a logistical nightmare.
The department’s Bureau of Medical Services, which runs the Medicaid program, was being deluged with hundreds of calls from doctors, dentists, hospitals, health clinics and nursing homes, angry because their claims were not being paid. The new system had placed most of the rejected claims in a ‘suspended’ file for forms that contained errors.
Tens of thousands of claims representing millions of dollars were being left in limbo.
About 15 IT staffers and about 4 dozen employees from CNSI, the contractor hired to develop the system—were working 12-hour days, writing software fixes and performing adjustments so fast that Hitchings knew that key project management guidelines were beginning to fall by the wayside. And nothing seemed to help.
Because CNSI is a private company, their financials aren’t published, and thus, the exact amount of business it does with our government isn’t known. Furthermore, because most IT-related Medicaid contracts are done on the state level, tracking the amount of IT business that ObamaCare will create is also very difficult to do. It is clear that one company that should be happy with the implementation of ObamaCare is CNSI because it is without a doubt a boon to a company like it. The company’s behavior before and during the implementation of ObamaCare should therefore be watched very carefully and Front Page Magazine intends to do so.
Two things about the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) are increasingly clear: (1) seniors have been singled out and forced to bear a disproportionate share of the cost of a new entitlement for young people and (2) the states are administratively just not ready to implement the new program in time for its January 1, 2014, start date.
So here’s a simple proposal that will not affect the federal deficit: Delay the scheduled cuts in Medicare spending by five years and pay for that expense by delaying the 2014 start date of ObamaCare by two years.
That would give everyone time to find a better way to reform the health care system. It would also impact this fall’s election. Every member of Congress would be asked to vote up or down on a single question: Who do you care more about: senior citizens or ObamaCare?
Over the next 10 years, ObamaCare will reduce Medicare spending by $716 billion. The Obama administration had hoped to achieve these spending reductions through increased efficiency, based on the results of pilot projects and demonstration programs. The problem: the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has said in three consecutive reports that these projects are not working as planned and are unlikely to save money. As a fallback device, the health reform law set up a bureaucracy, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), that will have the power to reduce doctor and hospital fees to such an extent that access to care for the elderly and disabled will be severely impaired.
In fact, the Medicare actuaries tell us that squeezing the providers in this way will put one-in-seven hospitals out of business in the next eight years, as Medicare fees fall below Medicaid’s. Harvard health economist Joseph Newhouse predicts senior citizens may be forced to seek care at community health centers and in the emergency rooms of safety net hospitals, just as Medicaid recipients do today.
Consider people reaching age 65 this year. Under ObamaCare, the average amount spent on these enrollees over the remainder of their lives will fall by about $36,000 at today’s prices. That sum of money is equivalent to about three years of benefits. For 55 year olds, the spending decrease is about $62,000—or the equivalent of six years of benefits. For 45 year olds, the loss is more than $105,000, or nine years of benefits.
In terms of the sheer dollars involved, the planned reduction in future Medicare payments is the equivalent of raising the eligibility age for Medicare to age 68 for today’s 65 year olds, to age 71 for 55 year olds and to age 74 for 45 year olds. But rather than keep the system as is and raise the age of eligibility, the reform law tries to achieve equivalent savings by paying less to providers. This will decrease access to care for seniors dramatically, and ultimately create a two-tiered health care system—with the elderly getting second class care.
A five-year delay in Medicare payment cuts can be paid for by pushing back the start date of ObamaCare from 2014 to 2016. The reason: Beginning in 2014, state health insurance exchanges are supposed to be up and running for individuals and families who lack access to employer-provided health coverage and do not qualify for Medicaid. But more than one-third of states (16) have done almost nothing to prepare for the exchanges. Another 20 states have made some progress but not enough. Further, health insurance exchanges will require significant investments in information technology that states simply cannot afford.
The delays contemplated here will give Congress time to replace ObamaCare’s command-and-control approach to health care with reforms that will empower patients, free doctors and allow competition in the marketplace.
In the meantime, delaying the start of these two major provisions will protect seniors, save taxpayers money and allow lawmakers time to enact health reforms that actually work.
- How AARP’s support for ObamaCare was bought and paid for (redpillreport.net)
- Sneak Peek – Paul Ryan: We’re Not the Ones Raiding Medicare to Pay for ObamaCare (foxnewsinsider.com)