By Robert Laurie
You may remember that, back in November, Deputy Chief Information Officer Henry Chao of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services appeared at a hearing with the Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations subcommittee. During his testimony, he announced that “We still have to build the payment systems to make payments to insurers in January. There’s the back office systems, the accounting systems, the payment systems… They still need to be done.”
The Obama administration loves to tout the number of “enrollees” under the President’s signature law, but they’re awfully cagey with their definitions. The term “enrollee” doesn’t mean that the person in question has ever paid a premium, and it doesn’t mean they’re insured. This week, we learned why.
It seems the White House has absolutely no idea how many people have paid, because Chao was right. Much of the payment infrastructure STILL isn’t in place.
According to Gary Cohen, the director of Medicare’s Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, there’s no way to know if anyone is paying their bill, because no one ever bothered to finish that part of the system - this includes a process that would collect the number of people who’ve plunked down their cash.
During a hearing Thursday, Congressman Greg Harper (R-Miss.) asked Cohen if we were collecting payment numbers.
“Right now we’re not, but we will be.” Cohen replied.
“When?” asked Congressman Harper.
“As soon as that functionality is built. I think I answered some questions about that earlier. Not all of that functionality is built yet.” Cohen said.
In fact, Cohen admitted that the automated payment system had yet to be built, but claimed that they had a temporary fix that would be in place as early as next week. Unfortunately, he had no idea when the system - as designed - would be working.
“So, we don’t know at this point how many people have actually paid for coverage?” The visibly frustrated Congressman asked.
So remember, the next time the White House says they don’t have the payment numbers, they may not be lying. They’re just so radically incompetent that they’ve never built a system that could gather that information.