The Weekly Standard’s Jeryl Bier has spent the last few months reporting on the relationship between HHS and Novitas Solutions, a health-sector systems provider hired by the Obama administration on a no-bid contract to build the back-end payment systems of Healthcare.gov. Those would be the still missing back-end systems, but this report flagged by Jeryl from Houston suggests that it might not make much difference. Novitas, which provides the payment systems for Medicare, is so far behind in its payments to one Houston hospital that its employees have stopped getting paid. ABC’s local affiliate reports on the situation:

Dozens of employees at a hospital in northeast Houston have had to make it through the holidays without getting paid for weeks. The CEO of Saint Anthony’s Hospital on Little York is blaming a new Medicare payment contractor for his payroll problems.

Nearly 150 employees, ranging from doctors to nurses and administrators, haven’t been paid in nearly a month, and the CEO says it’s not his fault. …

The hospital is strapped for cash not because its not making money, but because Leday says a new Medicare payment facilitator named Novitas Solutions is taking too way long to pay out Medicare claims to the hospital.

Leday says he’s owed nearly $3 million in payments from Medicare and can’t make payroll.

It’s not the first time that problems have arisen in Novitas’ payment systems, Jeryl reminds us:

Novitas also runs the south-central region’s Medicare website which was launched just two days before the October 1 launch of Healthcare.gov.  As THE WEEKLY STANDARD reported on December 19, that site has experienced problems reminiscent of Healthcare.gov’s troubles, and the site will not be fully operational until well into 2014.

The White House keeps insisting that their ObamaCare system has just experienced “glitches,” which will all get smoothed out shortly. However, the Medicare system used to be able to pay providers until Novitas got involved, and it’s possible that the hospital might have to cease operations for lack of staff. They certainly might choose not to accept Medicare assignments in the future, and I doubt that the issue is limited to St. Anthony’s in Houston.

Just imagine what will happen when Novitas brings its payment-systems expertise to private insurers looking for subsidies to cover premiums for ObamaCare enrollees. Will insurers wait weeks and months to get those premiums — or will they dump their enrollees for non-payment? Stay tuned.