Pearson to expand Medicare call center services

Originally posted Nov. 16 at 1:20 p.m. and updated Nov. 20 at 2:27 p.m.

(Updated) Pearson Government Solutions Inc. won a $440 million contract from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to expand the services it provides for the Beneficiary Contact Center program.

Under the contract, Pearson of Arlington will handle all calls, in English and Spanish, to the 24-hour, toll-free Medicare help line for all states and U.S. territories.

Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries call for general information about policies and benefits and to request printed material on health care plans and the new Medicare prescription drug program. Pearson also will handle Medicare claims calls and written correspondence.

The help line gets more than 20 million calls annually and is one of the largest citizen contact management programs in the federal government, according to Pearson.

Pearson has been providing services to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services since 2002. Under the new award, Pearson will provide expanded services until the beginning of 2009.

The new award is the first task order issued under the 10-year, $9 billion Contact Center Operations contract, awarded on Oct. 26 to six contractors. In addition to Pearson, the other contract winners are AdminaStar Federal Inc. of Indianapolis, Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda, ACS Federal Health Care LLC of Atlanta, Trailblazer Health Enterprises LLC of Dallas and Palmetto GBA LLC of Columbia, S.C. The companies compete with each other for orders under the contract.

Pearson also was one of five companies on Sept. 27 to win a spot on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' 10-year, $1 billion Contact Center Systems and Support contract for IT services to support the contact centers. The other companies are AdminaStar Federal, Lockheed Martin, SRA International Corp. of Fairfax, Va., and Northrop Grumman Information Technology of McLean, Va.

The demand for call centers by the federal government will see modest growth, said Mac Curtis, president and CEO of Pearson. But the company doesn't expect to see more call center opportunities as large as the new Medicare award, unless the work deals with a sudden emergency, such as a natural disaster or identity theft, he said.

Pearson has four major domestic contact centers and more than 3,000 information specialists working for the federal government. Other centers are the 1-800-4-FED-AID line for the Education Department's Student Financial Aid program and the 1-800-CDC-INFO line for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

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