Vt. GOP wants federal investigation into health exchange - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. GOP wants federal investigation into health exchange

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

Republican leaders of the Vermont House and Senate say they want a federal investigation into one of Vermont's health exchange contractors.

The lawmakers say an anonymous letter backs up allegations recently made in Newsweek alleging CGI faked a demonstration of the website last summer in order to hide problems. CGI is the primary contractor on Vermont Health Connect. They still have an $80 million contract with the state, though the federal government recently dropped the company from work on its exchange.

The demonstration in question occurred late last July, and Health Access Commissioner Mark Larson says it showed customer data could be sent to and from the federal data hub.

A month later, former gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock questioned the legitimacy of the demonstration.

Newsweek, relying on an anonymous source working closely with the rollout, reported the fraud as fact earlier this month.

Sen. Joe Benning and Rep. Don Turner cite an anonymous letter dated Jan. 22 as further evidence of possible fraud in their request for an investigation.

"I've been talking at the Statehouse for oversight on this program and we haven't gotten too far with that. So this was a way for us to make sure-- to determine whether these claims are factual, or they're not," said Rep. Don Turner, R-Minority Leader.

U.S. Attorney for Vermont Tris Coffin says his office received the request for an investigation, but would not say if or when staff will investigate.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, has promised a review of the entire health connect rollout expected to be released this April. However, that report will not be independent as requested by Republicans.

Larson previously panned the Newsweek report as factually inaccurate in many respects. In a statement, he writes:

"We have already provided CMS documentation of the successful connection between Vermont Health Connect and the federal data hub before and after the July 26 demonstration in question. In addition, CGI has provided a statement confirming that the demonstration on that date included a live connection with the federal data hub. We think it's unwarranted to seek a federal investigation based on an anonymous allegation that does not match the facts. Those who are calling for this are stoking fear, diverting resources and wasting time when what we really need is access to quality health care. That is exactly what Vermont Health Connect is providing to thousands of Vermonters."

In response to our story, CGI Vice President of Communications Linda Odorisio writes: "CGI confirms that the demonstration conducted on July 26, 2013 included a live interface to the Federal Data Services Hub, with the real time sending and receiving of data."

Click here to read the letter Republicans wrote to the U.S. attorney for Vermont.

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