The contractor building the financial management system for Healthcare.gov is being blamed by a Houston hospital for delayed Medicare reimbursements that have caused the hospital to miss payrolls for weeks. Novitas Solutions is the federal government's new Medicare payment processor for the south-central region of the country hired by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS.) ABC's KTRK in Houston reports:
According to the CEO Jason Leday, more than 150 employees haven't been paid in nearly a month.
"I understand that they have children and a house payment, bills. Not getting paid is wow," nearby resident Theresa Gutierrez said.
The hospital is strapped for cash not because its not making money, but because Leday says a new Medicare payment facilitator named Novitas Solutions is taking too way long to pay out Medicare claims to the hospital.
Leday says he's owed nearly $3 million in payments from Medicare and can't make payroll...
The Texas Medical Association says they are familiar with complaints like this one regarding the medicare payment facilitator- and a representative told us smaller community hospitals like this one are in similar situations.Novitas also runs the south-central region's Medicare website which was launched just two days before the October 1 launch of Healthcare.gov. As THE WEEKLY STANDARD reported on December 19, that site has experienced problems reminiscent of Healthcare.gov's troubles, and the site will not be fully operational until well into 2014.
Novitas's direct connection to Healthcare.gov stems from an emergency, no-bid contract for "financial management services" awarded in August and first reported by THE WEEKLY STANDARD in September. The services required included accounting, tracking of accounts receivable and accounts payable, documenting funds collected by CMS, and data validation, among other things. CMS justified the no-bid award because the "prospect of a delay in implementing the Marketplace by the operational date of January 1, 2014, even for a few days, would result in severe consequences, financial and other" and that the services required were "beyond what was initially anticipated and beyond CMS' currently available resources."
Novitas did not respond to KTRK for its story, and so far has not responded to a request for comment since the story ran. In the past, Novitas has referred requests for comment to HHS.
Despite initially promising more information about the August contract, HHS/CMS has ignored repeated requests for clarification about the nature of the work and how it relates to the mission of Healthcare.gov. HHS has not responded to a request for comment about the reports of slow payments to hospitals either.
Note: A version of this article first appeared at The Weekly Standard.