WASHINGTON, DC –Rep. Fred Upton and Sen. Chuck Grassley today asked two health care companies for information on whether they would limit any potential conflicts of interest presented by their involvement in implementing and potentially providing services under the health care reform law.
Quality Software Services Inc. (QSSI) holds a contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to erect the federal data services hub that will serve as the foundation for complex federal health insurance exchanges. According to media reports, UnitedHealth Group, through its subsidiary, Optum, purchased QSSI in late September 2012. Thus, UnitedHealth Group now owns both Optum and QSSI. It also owns UnitedHealthcare, a major national provider of health care plans and competitor to other health plans expected to participate in a federal exchange.
“This raises serious questions about the conflicts of interest that may exist,” Upton and Grassley wrote in letters to QSSI and UnitedHealth Group.
Upton and Grassley said the public revelations of these relationships came about through media reports, raising concerns about awareness of the potential for conflicts of interest at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is overseeing the contract. All major details of the contract – including its cost and inter-corporate relationships should be transparent in the interest of public accountability, Upton and Grassley said.
Upton and Grassley asked the companies to explain any steps they have taken to mitigate any conflicts of interest and whether they have communicated about the acquisition to the federal government. Both members remain opposed to the health care law and remain committed to providing proper oversight of the law’s implementation.
Upton, of Michigan, is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Grassley, of Iowa, is ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Upton-Grassley letters are available here.