Friday, April 22, 2011

Feds will cover most of the cost of upgrading Medicaid, CHIP enrollment technology

The federal government will pick up 90 percent of the cost of upgrading technology to improve enrollment and renewal for participants in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, according to a rule the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued last week. The rule provides an important financial incentive for states to improve efficiency and coordination with other programs, said Tricia Brooks in a blog post for the Georgetown Center for Children and Families. Brooks wrote:

What’s really important to most of us is that these systems are expected to improve enrollment and renewal by:
  • Supporting accurate and timely processing of eligibility decisions and effective communications with providers, beneficiaries and the public,
  • Producing transaction data, reports and performance information that contribute to program evaluation, continuous business improvement, and transparency and accountability
  • Ensuring seamless coordination with the Exchange and allow interoperability with health information exchanges, public health agencies, human services programs and community organizations providing outreach enrollment assistance services.
The subsidy is welcome news given Colorado’s troubled history with major information-technology projects, including the Colorado Benefits Management System. CBMS is the computer system that manages eligibility and enrollment for Colorado’s public benefits programs, including Medicaid, Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) and SNAP (formerly known as food stamps). The Colorado Center on Law and Policy filed a lawsuit immediately after CBMS went online in 2004. The agency recently entered into a second round of settlement agreements with the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing regarding the timely processing of welfare benefits applications. The federal funding opportunity will not only help Colorado build the infrastructure necessary to operate an effective and efficient health insurance exchange, but it should assist the state to make changes to timely and accurately deliver public-assistance benefits.

Find much more news and analysis in this week's edition of Health Law and Policy Update, to be released later today.

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