The CGI Group - a Montreal based information and technological company has the contract for both Vermont and Massachusetts. The health insurance website is still plagued with problems.
Officials from these states are looking at legal options to seek financial redress at a meeting to be held on 9th of January. Massachusetts has already paid $11million to CGI against a $69 contract. Jason Lefferts a spokesman for the Commonwealth Health Connector said that they would not pay until the website was fully functional.
Advertisement"CGI has consistently underperformed, which is frustrating and a serious concern," Lefferts said. "We are holding the vendor accountable for its underperformance and will continue to apply nonstop pressure to work to fix defects and improve performance."
Massachusetts has reverted to using an alternative software system and paper notifications for residents seeking new insurance, a significant black mark for a system that was held up as a national model for providing coverage after it debuted in 2007.
In Vermont, the state is withholding payment of $5.1 million as compensation for the company's failure to meet key deadlines. The state is also disputing more than $1 million in charges billed by CGI because of incomplete work that left its insurance website so far behind schedule that Vermonters could not buy coverage online, as promised under Obama's health care law, until early December, two months after it opened.
"I've lost confidence in the contractors that were supposed to deliver a fully functioning website on Oct. 1," said Governor Peter Shumlin of Vermont. "I'm going to continue to hold their feet to the fire until they get it right." President Obama had said shopping for coverage would be as easy as purchasing a plane ticket online. But the race to enroll the uninsured has been a difficult task— not only in the glitch-plagued federal HealthCare.gov site, which is serving 36 states.
In addition to Massachusetts and Vermont, CGI is working on five other state-based marketplaces — in Hawaii, Colorado, Kentucky, New Mexico, and California — with mixed success. Hawaii's marketplace launched two weeks late, with comparison shopping among insurances plans not possible until Oct. 15.
In Kentucky and Colorado, the sites were functioning as they should for the most part. California also performed better than the federal website. CGI spokeswoman Linda Odorisio said the company is working to fix state websites and has already improved performance of the much-maligned federal marketplace. The Obama administration is investigating as to what went wrong, though there is no indication of legal action against CGI for substandard performance.
"We must take steps to ensure that our contractors are well managed, and that they fulfill their commitments and provide good services and products for our tax dollars," wrote Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, in a recent blog post. "Even states where there was good will, where the government was totally committed to implementing the law, have experienced a mess," said Joe Onek, a longtime Washington attorney and health law expert who has worked for the Carter and Clinton administrations, as well as Nancy Pelosi and Edward M. Kennedy.
"I would expect all sorts of litigation related to this, but nobody is interested in filing that now because they need the cooperation of these same people to get their systems up and running," Onek said. The new site meant to streamline the insurance application process while eliminating the need to file separate applications for subsidies. This hasn't happened. Parts of the website used to determine people's program eligibility have been completely useless. Basic functions, as account log-ins and password resets have not been functioning. "CGI fully intends to honor the terms of its contract," Odorisio said in a statement.
Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)
Tracy Jan, December 2013
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