- Associated Press - Monday, April 20, 2015

Wentzville, Mo. (AP) - Documents show a Wentzville processing facility for Affordable Care Act applications logged more than 13,000 hours of overtime to make up for a backlog after the initial sign-up period.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1Jm4dCO ) obtained documents showing that workers at the facility run by Serco Inc. logged the hours from May 1 through Aug. 15 of last year.

Serco runs the facility for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The company was awarded a five-year contract worth up to $1.2 billion.

Agency spokesman Aaron Albright says the cost of that overtime was covered under the contractor’s original contract, and did not cost taxpayers any extra money. He said last year the same computer issues that hampered applicants trying to sign up for health care also delayed their processing work.

The Wentzville facility was created to process paper applications and to help resolve any differences in documents for people who sought coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

In an August report, Serco said that it was not until May, eight months after the initial application process began, that the system was functional enough to process inconsistencies.

The paper obtained documents indicating the overtime hours after whistleblower allegations said employees at Wentzville were purposely working slowly because they had little to do.

“Serco, at its Wentzville facility, has been accused of allowing staff who are bored to sleep on the job, read books, play games, etc.,” two Serco officials said in a February report to CMS. “In addition, we have been accused of not providing adequate training and support to our … staff. Both accusations are baseless and untrue.”

CMS would not allow Serco officials to comment about the allegations, but Albright says that company is not denying the allegations.

“Serco has high standards when it comes to rules of behavior and practice in the workplace,” Albright said. “If employees do not meet these performance standards or violate any of these workplace rules, they are appropriately disciplined or terminated. CMS has put in place additional measures to monitor Serco’s performance and worker productivity over the last year.”

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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