Health Insurance Exchange Contractors Give Update Report to House Energy & Commerce Committee–The Federal Data Hub Beta
Posted Sep 11 2013 10:36pm
This was nice to get some updates from the contractors involved in the process. Again I’m still curious to see how the old COBOL servers work with some middleware to scale the results out. After reading this article it sounds like if there no answer to “pings” at the IRS, Social Security, and Homeland Security that we have some sort of a fall over to Equifax and Serco. Those were last minute contracts given out as contingencies just a couple months ago.
Back in July I wrote Will it Blend, based on information that had been given at that time.
California has since changed their web site to be a little more positive and adds a little more confidence as additional testing has occurred. I did a walk through and site looks nice and it all at that time directed towards the idea that a lot would be manually done, in other words without the data connections with mailing in applications. I think they also took a hard look due to complexities of insurance companies today as to how many would “really” do a complete automated shopping and full transaction and that number they indicated would be around 20% so that leaves 80% of the shoppers for insurance using other methodologies. Amazing when you look at the potential of all the data running through what 80% might mean as far as traffic delivering up some data, maybe a little different context here?
Since this presentation was given to the Energy Commission I wonder if they are renting space from the DOE too for this project. I think I already said that a while back on another post a while back. I call it a beta as that’s what it is and nothing wrong with that as huge companies like Microsoft for one use betas and until all the bugs are out, and yes there will be bugs, so I’m going to refer to it as the Federal Data Hub Beta (grin).
Here’s what DOE has over there in computing power and this post is a couple years old so there’s probably much more over there now. DOE runs this Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE)program to where they give time and space to environmental projects that need to crunch big numbers. So who knows, it would not be a surprise to see if our Federal Data Hub data processing capabilities are entirely or partially supported here.
Serco, the one contractor who is set up to do a lot of the manual support says it’s ready to go and their corporate offices in the UK are currently under investigation for fraud where new contracts are frozen pending the outcome but I don’t think that has any impact on the US branch. They are planning on 3 facilities all together so sounds like they anticipate a measureable amount of paper items coming through.
“John Lau, program director for Serco, said his company is staffing up to handle paper applications and other tasks. It will open a service center in Kentucky on Oct. 1, followed soon by two others in Arkansas and Missouri.”
In addition Equifax added their information on the proprietary data base they were going to use to use. A couple weeks ago another division of Equifax just had to shell out $18 million on a court case when didn’t fix a woman’s credit information for years. Keep in mind too this was a lawyer giving the update not a technician so she’s reliant on what the tech folks tell her. They way the article is written it sounds like if there’s a “no ping” at the IRS for whatever reason it will kick over to Equifax.
“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. It will rely on a proprietary database called The Work Number, widely used by lenders, employers and government agencies. Final testing is scheduled for Sept. 15.”
As I said before so what if all the automation is not ready, the fact is you will be able to apply for health insurance on that day, whether it is the old paper and faxing methods or if the big Beta Federal Data Hub is up to the task. This is a lot of data work and there will be updates and the states can more than likely look forward to updates to their systems for connectivity as the Hub and the rest of it will be updated. Come on who makes a perfect data system out there today..nobody. Just this week speaking of code issues, United had another recall on one of their medical systems. It was the sixth one but this was the first we heard about it. They wrote a fix and distributed the update so the exchange system can join the crowd in that respect:)
I know it is a little odd when you hear lawyers and politicians talking about high tech and sometimes they stumble all over themselves with mistakes, as was with the NSA trying to listen to Feinstein describe the NSA incident when it happened. One thing the exchanges have been is a lesson for both politicians and the public on the time and effort required and how IT infrastructure works, that is if you don’t get enough news out of Wall Street on that end, it’s all math models, data and code. The whole world operates this way today and it’s all of our fears that flawed data will be used out of context, which we have read in the news with denials from insurers for years, or that the data if correct will be taken out of context. A mathematician and I both agree we don’t have enough people trained on how to work with flawed data as well and that’s yet one more issue we need to face as well. Here’s a post I wrote in back in November and it still holds true…
I mention that to help educate and again be aware that a lot of flawed data lives amongst use basically due to the huge billions of dollars companies make selling it and it impacts data everywhere, this is no different so ask questions and make sure your data as reported is correct and don’t take it for granted when you apply for health insurance. Hopefully the FTC and Congress can rise to education level needed here one day to address privacy laws for all of us consumers that get bit over and over by the Killer Algorithms. So let’s see what October 1 brings and how it all works. BD
WASHINGTON -- 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.
But the administration got a boost this week when California officials said their marketplace — the nation's largest — would start enrolling uninsured people Oct. 1 as scheduled, through a mix of online access, call center support and community helpers.
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.
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.
John Lau, program director for Serco, said his company is staffing up to handle paper applications and other tasks. It will open a service center in Kentucky on Oct. 1, followed soon by two others in Arkansas and Missouri.
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. It will rely on a proprietary database called The Work Number, widely used by lenders, employers and government agencies. Final testing is scheduled for Sept. 15.