Medicare thinks it can solve it massive problem -- 70+ separate companies operate the system -- by sending out a warning letter to software vendors. If they are not compliant by 2000, they may be in big trouble.
Bureaucrats are playing self-protection games. "Look, we mailed out a letter. What more could we have done?"
The word "may" appears instead of "will" in the letter. In short, this is the equivalent of, "Your father will deal with you when he gets home!" Meanwhile, dad is on a business trip in Zaire.
Medicare is planning -- it's not in operation yet -- to have its regional offices monitor this and submit reports. Yes, my friends, a government agency will require reports. Written reports. And these will be officially filed! Need we fear the consequences of y2k for Medicare?
Notice that one vendor, EDS, is not compliant. EDS also sells services to large companies that seek y2k compliance. Maybe EDS should hire itself.
I ask: What if the vendors can't fix the problem? What will that do for Medicare in 2000? How will that get 80 million checks written each month?
This appeared in FEDERAL COMPUTER NEWS (Jan. 5).
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In a move to make computer systems that support the Medicare program Year 2000-compliant, the Health Care Financing Administration has threatened to deny new information technology contracts to vendors if they fail to make the systems Year 2000-compliant.
In a letter sent last year to contractors, HCFA administrator Nancy-Ann Min DeParle wrote, "Failure by a contractor to bring its systems into Year 2000 compliance, as defined by HCFA, by Dec. 31, 1998, may be grounds for denial of any new contracts or additional work under the Medicare program or discontinuation of current contracts." . . .
"We are saying to contractors that if there's an interruption in medical claims processing because your system is not Year 2000-compliant, we are going to consider that a performance error," Christophe said. "There's a range of potential actions if you fail on this, and we are going to seriously doubt your ability to provide services for us, whether it's a current claims processing contract or some future business." . . .
The cancellation of MTS, which was to have been Year 2000-compliant, combined with HCFA's ultimatum to contractors, caused the Office of Management and Budget to downgrade the Department of Health and Human Services' -- under which HCFA operates -- progress in fixing computers to accept 2000. HHS was listed as one of seven agencies that have shown insufficient progress toward solving its Year 2000 problems and must redirect all funding for new IT systems into making older computer systems Year 2000-compliant. . . .
Based on the survey's results, HCFA plans to require regional offices to monitor the progress of contractors and report that progress to the agency's central office. . . .
Electronic Data Systems Corp., which administers medical claims processing systems in Northern California and New England, said it is working on making its systems compliant. . . .
Other Medicare contractors declined to comment on the letter.