Good News? Department Of Health And Human Services HHS Completes Successful Y2K Test (Federal Computer Week) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Wasnt HHS really in trouble on the latest Horn report card? Oh well. Hope theyre really ready.


OCTOBER 12, 1999 . . . 16:05 EDT

HHS completes successful Y2K test


[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

The Department of Health and Human Services today declared several mission-critical computer systems ready for the Year 2000 date change, including systems affecting the nation's largest grant disbursement system, welfare and children's programs, and health services.

The announcement comes after the completion of a successful end-to-end test to verify that all the applicable federal and selected state, tribal and financial institution systems can work together to exchange data on Jan. 1 and beyond.

"Y2K preparedness is management job No. 1 at HHS," said Kevin Thurm, deputy secretary at HHS. "We are completing our testing with partners to be sure that information and dollar flow will be uninterrupted by the New Year's date change."

The HHS agencies that completed end-to-end testing include the Program Support Center, which is responsible for disbursing two-thirds of all annual federal grant funds; the Administration for Children and Families, which handles more than $35 billion in welfare and children's programs; and the Health Resources and Services Administration, which oversee more than $4 billion in programs covering health care delivery and health professionals support.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention completed end-to-end testing last month on its public health surveillance systems along with state health departments and other programs.

-- Diane J. Squire (, October 13, 1999


Or is there an HHS disconnect?

OCTOBER 5, 1999 . . . 17:52 EDT

Medicare, managed care organizations behind on Y2K work


[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

Many of the nation's Medicare providers and managed care organizations have not taken the necessary steps to ensure their computer systems will be Year 2000-compliant, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Surveys conducted by the department's inspector general, in addition to on-site evaluations by the Health Care Financing Administration, concluded that those health care organizations made significant improvements in their Year 2000 readiness plans in the first half of the year. But the surveys, conducted in July, showed weaknesses in the compliance of billing systems.

The two self-reported surveys, one of Medicare managed care companies and the other of fee-for-service providers, found that about 85 percent of managed care respondents claimed they were Year 2000 ready. About 66 percent of fee-for-service providers reported that their billing and medical records system were compliant.

The surveys and site visits also showed that 67 percent of contingency plans submitted to HCFA in August from managed care organizations needed major or complete revision. In addition, one-third of fee- for-service providers had not tested the readiness of their systems. Also, a large number of fee-for-service agencies did not respond to the survey, leaving their current status and future readiness unknown.

If health care providers experience problems generating electronic claims and must use paper next year, it will take longer for the government to pay claims, said HCFA chief information officer Gary Christoph. He said the law requires HCFA to respond to electronic claims in 14 days, a time span that nearly doubles to 27 days for paper-based claims.

Year 2000 resources for health care providers are available online at , or toll-free at (800) 958-4232.

-- Diane J. Squire (, October 13, 1999.

Thanks, Diane. More typical govt. spin to appease the sheeple. Health care is toast. Better have meds when TSHTF.

-- (its@coming.soon), October 13, 1999.

"Both" stories are actually true - It appears that the first relates to end-end testing (of mission-critical systems only note!) within the department and its major sections/agencies.

The second (equally, if not more important), is about the probable failures and lack of testing between the dept and the outside companies and hospitals and local government agencies who have not done "data-exchange" testing, or remediation and surveys.

Leaving aside this likely series of problems, there is a third level of likely failure - inside the smaller doctor offices, the local governments, and the local hospitals who are inadequately ready. Ready neither for possible failure of outside services (food services, water, oxygen, medical supplies, heat, power, contingency planning; but also not ready for primary y2k-failures in their own payroll, pension, tax, finance, operations, and internal departments.

Many process control failures in medical eqpt have been found and recorded at various sites, what's unknown is whether all of these have been eliminated from use.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (, October 13, 1999.

Robert, I honestly think the disconnect palys when people hear one puzzle piece is okay, then extrapolate the okayness to all puzzle pieces.

Fuzzy logic.


Inter-related... as a case in point...

OCTOBER 4, 1999

CIO worried Medicare providers not ready for Y2K


[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

The top information technology official for the Health Care Financing Administration, which oversees the nation's Medicare program, told Congress last week that he has "serious concerns" about whether the Medicare program will avoid Year 2000 problems.

Gary Christoph, the chief information officer for HCFA, told a joint hearing of two House panels that even though the agency has repaired all of its internal computer systems for the computer glitch, some of the third-party Medicare contractors and health care providers are behind in fixing their computers.

"We continue to have serious concerns about the readiness of...Medicare providers," Christoph testified.

HCFA manages health insurance for about 39 million people and processes more than $280 billion in health claims annually. Smooth operation of the claims process after Dec. 31, 1999, will depend on HCFA's internal computer systems as well as those operated by third- party Medicare contractors and health care providers, according to witnesses testifying before the two House subcommittees overseeing the Year 2000 computer problem.

Joel Willemssen, director for civil agencies information systems issues at the General Accounting Office, told the subcommittees that < b> HCFA continues to test how well it exchanges data with its contractors, in some cases uncovering errors that would cause serious problems.

The full extent of Year 2000 problems involving providers that give care to Medicare recipients remains unknown. Less than 2 percent of 230,000 hospitals, nursing homes, doctors and other health care providers who submit claims to Medicare had tested their computer systems with Medicare contractors, said Rep. Stephen Horn (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Government Management, Information and Technology Subcommittee. Horn's subcommittee met jointly with the House Science Committee's Technology Subcommittee.

HCFA officials have been working to "recertify" that their internal computer systems are Year 2000-compliant. The recertification follows routine maintenance and upgrade of the systems, Christoph said. He also said the agency needs to recertify its systems following congressionally mandated changes to the Medicare program, which required the agency to reprogram some of its systems to deal with the changes.

Willemssen said HCFA should try to test all of its critical computer systems as it works to recertify them. HCFA has set Nov. 1 as the deadline to have all of its mission-critical systems ready. The tight deadline has made it difficult for the agency to conduct integrated tests involving all of its key systems, Christoph said.

Many health care providers have been slow to respond to HCFA's inquiries on their Y2K readiness, hindering the agency's efforts to test the entire Medicare business process -- from the health care provider to the federal government. Christoph called the situation "frustrating."

Fred Brown, chairman of the board of trustees of the American Hospital Association, testified that the hospital sector has been preparing diligently for the problem, and that it "will be ready for Y2K." He said hospitals will spend close to $8 billion to become Year 2000- compliant, with most of that money being spent this year.

Whitney Addington, president of the American College of Physicians- American Society of Internal Medicine, said his organization recently has finished an awareness campaign but said he remained concerned that some physicians may rely too much on vendors for Y2K compliance.

"ACP-ASIM is very concerned therefore that too many physicians may be relying on vendor certifications that the vendor's software is Y2K- compliant," he said. "While we think it risky for nonexperts to try rolling forward the dates on computer systems to determine their Y2K readiness. It is imperative that even new systems, as well as those supposedly corrected for Y2K, be tested by experts."

-- Diane J. Squire (, October 13, 1999.

It's obvious that the Government not only attracts THE MOST prolific programmers (as opposed to the corporate market) but also that the success rate of the government is far above what any previously recorded data has suggested.

ALL HAIL TO .Gov!!!!!!!!! They are the Y2k Silver Bullet!!!!!!!!!!


Mike : )


-- Michael Taylor (, October 13, 1999.

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