MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — State House and Senate Republican leaders on Wednesday asked the Vermont federal prosecutor’s office to investigate possible fraud by the firm that has been working with the state to build the Vermont Health Connect insurance exchange website.
The letter from Rep. Don Turner of Milton and Sen. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, follows allegations raised in a recent Newsweek article that CGI Technologies and Solutions Inc. faked a connection to a federal data hub last July to persuade state officials that development of the Vermont Health Connect website was on track.
A CGI spokeswoman denied that allegation in a statement Wednesday.
The July 26 demonstration was of a ‘‘live interface with the federal data hub,’’ said the lawmakers’ letter, citing Newsweek, and adding that the magazine had quoted an unnamed whistleblower saying ‘‘the system was in no way operable during that demonstration.’’
‘‘Almost five months after it was scheduled to be fully operational, Vermont Health Connect is still not working as promised,’’ said the letter to U.S. Attorney Tristram Coffin. ‘‘In fact, due to the system’s problems, small businesses have been forced to sign up directly with insurance companies instead of through the Exchange.’’
Earlier Wednesday, Gov. Peter Shumlin said he continued to be disappointed by the performance of Vermont Health Connect to date, and Republican House leaders asked Shumlin’s administration to delay required enrollment in the exchange by small businesses at least through the end of the year, even if the website’s problems are fixed before then.
Shumlin administration officials have disputed the allegation contained in Newseek’s Feb. 7 edition. The allegation was first raised in an opinion column by former state Auditor Randy Brock last fall. Brock lost to Shumlin in the 2012 election.
Linda Odorisio, vice president for communications at CGI, also denied the allegation. ‘‘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,’’ she said in an email Wednesday evening.
The lawmakers attached a letter to Coffin from someone they described as an anonymous whistleblower who they said wrote to them last month.
The writer described him- or herself as ‘‘a team member on this project’’ who feared retribution if speaking openly.
The writer ‘‘witnessed first-hand very large amounts of waste in federal and state monies and, as important, human efforts,’’ both by state officials and CGI employees, but also by thousands of Vermonters who signed up as navigators to help people get signed up with Vermont Health Connect, the letter said.