|By Chuck Raasch And Tara Kulash, St. Louis Post-Dispatch|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
One worker at the
"I walk out every day feeling as if I have contributed nothing," said the
The federal government, under the auspices of the
Now, employees are claiming there are not enough applications to generate work for them.
The Post-Dispatch on Wednesday reported that a former worker,
Employees were not allowed to have access to the Internet or cellphones, Takatz said.
Both Fleming and Takatz said
Both former employees told the
CMS did not respond to questions about how much they knew about a possible lack of productivity.
The worker in
"When the highlight of employees' days are playing Pictionary in the training room ... and you get paid decent money to go to work to talk to your friends, something is wrong," he wrote in an email to the
Takatz, who lives in
"I feel guilty for working there as long as I did," she said. "It was like I was stealing money from people."
"I have heard that there have been allegations from other facilities, and we are looking into that," he said.
Her letter to
McCaskill's letter says that the whistleblower alleges that employees were told to sit at their desks and "pretend to work" when officials from the federal CMS were on-site.
The fresh calls for investigations came as the
In an emailed statement, a
"As in any business or major program there are peaks and valleys as the various tasks stop and start," wrote
The allegations from the facility at
A letter similar to McCaskill's, signed by all six of
"We wonder whether or not there was any sort of concern voiced by CMS staff or any question of legitimacy stemming from that visit that may have made its way to CMS headquarters," the letter states. It was signed by Reps.
According to CMS, the contract was awarded through a full and open competition that followed the Federal Acquisition Regulations "to ensure the selection process was fair and transparent, and to ensure the selection of the most qualified organization."
The tasks outlined in the contract include intake, routing, review and troubleshooting of applications, according to
Lau, in testimony in September before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, outlined some of the tasks in the contract, such as sorting and categorizing mail; processing paper applications; verifying eligibility under state-specific requirements; addressing complex issues; telephone support; code development; test support; and more.
Though most sign-ups for insurance under the new marketplace were to be made online, officials at the time estimated that a third of the 20 million people expected to apply would submit paper applications. But as of December, CMS figures show only 17 percent of applications were made on paper, according to a release by Blunt.
Lau, in his testimony, said
Those tasks included an increase in appeals requests and a growing staff. In addition, the testimony states that CMS requested translation and interpreter services in August, as well as background checks on employees.
Allegations that employees in
Former employees told the
"There were a lot of pretenses of things going on in there," she said. "Basically tattletaling and making up stories ... on individuals to get them fired."
Some said the job led them to visit a doctor for stress.
Colvin, 54, said she went to her doctor when she started experiencing anxiety and depression.
"When I got there, my blood pressure was almost at the stroke point."
CMS stated Wednesday that
A CMS spokesman said CMS was committed to ensuring federal funds were spent appropriately and performance expectations were "clear and monitored closely."
Blunt, noting that a Canadian company received the computer contract to run the Affordable Care Act website, raised questions about why a British company whose parent company,
He and Sen.
"Right now on this issue we have a lot more questions than we have answers," Blunt said. "And they are questions that need to be asked and questions that need to be answered."
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