Written by Chriss W. Street
In Congressional hearings on the day before Halloween, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius promised a “Tech Surge” will rescue Obamacare’s HealthCare.gov software by the end of November. But a review of campaign and fund raising activities by a key executive associated with general contractor for the surge, Quality Software Services Inc. (QSSI), raises substantial concerns regarding the appropriateness of awarding no-bid “emergency” contract to a firm associated with over $1 million in donations to President Obama. QSSI is no stranger to conflicts regarding Obamacare; the software caused howls of crony capitalism after they were acquired in 2012 by mammoth insurance company UnitedHealth Group Inc.
Jeffery Zients, former acting director of the Office of Management and Budget was appointed on October 25th to oversee a team of tech experts to repair HealthCare.gov. Mr. Zients said QSSI, a unit of United HealthGroup Inc.’s Ovum, was retained on an emergency basis to work with federal agency Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, to get the website running smoothly for most consumers by the end of November. The QSSI contract was announced one day after HealthCare.gov contractors CGI Federal, and Optum, which owns QSSI, said they were not given sufficient time to test software for log-ins, insurance eligibility and insurance plan comparisons for its Oct. 1 launch.
The principal reason why the website for Obamacare’s federally-sponsored insurance exchange is crashing is that the system is trying to capture a huge amount of personal information far exceeding the traditional need for insurance underwriting. This creates a massive traffic bottleneck on top of the governments need to verify information and decide if an individual is eligible for subsidies. HHS bureaucrats must have known that this volume of data would make the website run more slowly, but capturing personal information appears to have been the priority.
Anthony Welters, Executive Vice President of UnitedHealth Group, and his family have gone all out to back President Obama’s ambitions. During the 2008 election cycle, his wife Beatrice bundled donations totaling between $200,000 and $500,000 for Obama’s campaign. In 2009, the pair was among the president’s top inaugural donors, contributing $100,000, and bundling an additional $300,000 for the events. Immediately after being sworn in, President Obama nominated Beatrice Welters to serve as the ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago.
Anthony and Beatrice Welters and their sons, Andrew and Bryant, contributed in excess of $258,000 to various Democratic candidates and committees in the last six years. That includes the maximum amount an individual can give to the Democratic National Committee of $30,800 each.
Records show that UnitedHealth Group has spent over $2.5 million in lobbying this year regarding the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2013.
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