Arkansas DHS erases Medicaid backlog, down from 140,000

by Steve Brawner ([email protected]) 325 views 

The Department of Human Services has virtually erased a backlog of Medicaid eligibility cases that had reached 140,000 people earlier this year, Director Cindy Gillespie said in a letter sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday (Jan. 11).

As of Dec. 30, there were 692 overdue cases. Some individuals’ applications dated back to 2014.

“Based on a review of the remaining cases, all individuals have coverage and the only work that remains is simply clean-up of case files,” wrote Gillespie, who began working in her position in March.

The backlog has involved Medicaid eligibility cases that either are pending, renewals, or changes of circumstance.

DHS began processing the backlog in June, and it took about 45 days to determine how many cases were involved. In August, the agency hired as contractors Maximus, eSystems and Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care. AFMC handled the call center, transforming wait times from hours before it took that responsibility to a few minutes.

In a previous letter to Hutchinson in December, Gillespie said DHS has put in place procedures to keep its caseload current, including interfacing with the Arkansas Geographic Information Service to validate addresses provided by citizens. The agency has also begun a monthly match with the Department of Health to learn of deceased recipients, and a match with the Department of Correction to identify incarcerated individuals.

“Director Gillespie ought to be commended,” said Sen. Jim Hendren, R-Gravette, chair of a Health Reform Legislative Task Force that spent two years studying Medicaid. “She came in here, found a problem that was getting worse, and not only stopped it from getting worse but fixed it.”