A former employee at an Affordable Care Act processing center in Missouri recalls having nothing, or so little work to do that she played board games while some co-workers slept.
Lavonne Takatz, 42, worked at the center in Wentzville from October to April.
“We played Pictionary. We played 20 Questions. We played Trivial Pursuit,” she told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Wednesday.
Such allegations have spurred members of Missouri’s congressional delegation to call for investigations of the taxpayer-funded center in Wentzville, one of three nationally that are contracted to process paper applications for the new health-care law.
The federal government, under the auspices of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, gave a five-year, $1.2 billion contract last year to Serco Inc., a processing and security group, to process paper applications for health insurance from the 36 states with federal health insurance exchanges.
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.
Allegations that employees were doing little or no work, first reported by KMOV (Channel 4) on Monday, drew a flurry of responses from Missouri’s delegation Wednesday.
Takatz, who lives in Wentzville, said she originally took the job to help people obtain health care.
“I feel guilty for working there as long as I did,” she said. “It was like I was stealing money from people.”
Takatz said that when she and other employees looked for applications to process, they called it fishing because they were trying to catch an application before someone at another processing center could.
Employees refreshed their pages so frequently that Serco limited them to one refresh per 10 minutes. If workers refreshed more than that, they were called into a supervisor’s office and told to stop.
In the whole month of December, she said, she processed about six applications.
Workers became so bored and hostile, Takatz claims, that Serco began providing books to read. Employees were told they could not speak to the media, even if they left the company.