ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Three Republican lawmakers in Washington are demanding answers several News 4 reports on an Affordable Care Act processing center in Wentzville paying employees to do nothing.
U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee sent a letter Wednesday to Marilyn Tavenner, administrator for the government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in response to a report Monday on News 4 concerning the Serco Inc. office.
U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, whose district includes Wentzville, will write to Tavenner separately, spokesman Paul Sloca said.
“He’s in touch with potential committees that would have oversight and determining what is the best way to proceed in terms of a potential investigation,” Sloca said.
News 4 first reported the story, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Thursday quoted former Serco worker Lavonne Takatz as saying workers had so little to do that she played board games. Others slept, she said. It wasn’t immediately clear if Takatz was the same employee who spoke with News 4.
“I feel guilty for working there as long as I did,” Takatz, 42, told the newspaper. “It was like I was stealing money from people.”
Another employee, named Lavonne, told News 4 she quit her job because she was frustrated.
“I think for the entire month of December I processed six applications and that was pretty good,” Lavonne said.
“We played Pictionary on a very dry erase board,” Lavonne said. “We played 20 questions, we made up games what you did in 1989.”
Serco was awarded up to $1.25 billion to process applications for health insurance through the new health care law. Based in Great Britain, Serco employs 100,000 people worldwide, including 9,000 in the U.S.
The Wentzville facility has 660 employees and is one of three contracted to process paper applications; the others are in Arkansas and Kentucky.
The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement that it is committed to working with Serco and other contractors “to ensure that federal funds are spent appropriately and performance expectations are clear and monitored closely.
“We closely monitor the work Serco is doing relative to the number of employees they have, and we are confident that the balance is appropriate,” it said.
A message seeking comment from a spokesman for Serco was not immediately returned.
The senators expressed concern that Serco “may have much less work than was expected” when it was awarded the contract, and that the company may not be successfully completing applications it receives. They asked Tavenner to respond by May 30.