DHHS to delay implementation of Medicaid changes

Medicaid was supposed to get rolled in county by county starting this month, but that has been postponed.
January 13, 2014 8:00:07 PM PST
Because of ongoing computer problems with the NCFAST system, the ABC11 I-Team has learned that the state Department of Health and Human Services is moving a big deadline.

Medicaid was supposed to get rolled in county by county starting this month, but ABC11 learned Monday that that is just one more thing not running on schedule.

For six months now, people who were once on food stamps have been using a new system called NCFAST.  By 2017, that same system will have 18 other social services tagged on to it.

This month, DHHS, which runs NCFAST, was going to start rolling in Medicaid, but there have been so many problems with the food assistance part of NCFAST that DHHS decided not to flip the switch on Medicaid for now.

"We're anticipating having more concerns -- slower processing times," said Acting Wake County Manager Joe Durham.

Durham says they were told two days ago that DHHS is holding off on switching the Medicaid component so counties can catch up on food side of NCFAST.

In Wake County, it's supposed to take less than a month for someone to start getting assistance, but Durham says they're not even close.

"At one time, we had between 90 and 120 days," he said. "It's more around 60 days right now."

The county says it has hired more than 50 extra workers to help with the extra load. When it comes to Medicaid, Wake has partnered with the local nonprofit Urban Ministries in case there's a similar backup.

"There's an anticipation that even more individuals might have a delay getting their Medicaid on time to fill their prescriptions on time," said Dr. Peter Morris, of Urban Ministries.

Morris spearheaded that partnership because he is anticipating problems down the road. There are some 80,000 people in the county on Medicaid, which is twice as many as the number getting food assistance.

"You're bound to have an increase in difficulty getting the cards issued, issued on time, and to the correct individuals," said Morris.

It's unclear when DHHS will flip the switch on the Medicaid part of NCFAST. A spokesperson for the agency told ABC11 that, so far, they haven't set a new date to go live.

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