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DHHS Secretary Wos Calls for Immediate Freeze on Old Medicaid Computer System

 

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
For Release: Immediate
Date: January 18, 2013
Contact: Julie Henry, julie.henry@dhhs.nc.gov, 919-855-4840

RALEIGH, N.C. – Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos, M.D., has ordered an immediate stop to any changes to the state’s 35-year old Medicaid computer system that are not mission-critical. In a letter to Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services (HPES), the vendor operating the current Medicaid billing system, Wos instructed the company to “immediately stop the implementation of any changes” as the department focuses on transitioning to its replacement Medicaid Management Information system (MMIS).

“We have a responsibility to patients, providers and the taxpayers of North Carolina to put our limited resources where they are needed most,” said Secretary Wos. “In the coming weeks and months, our department’s priority is to ensure the transition from our current Medicaid computer system to the replacement MMIS is smooth, efficient and on time.”

The legacy computer system currently processes 88 million Medicaid claims annually on behalf of more than 1.5 million Medicaid enrollees, and writes checks totaling more than $11 billion to 70,000 health service providers throughout the state. Like most computer systems, including home computers, the current Medicaid computer system requires software patches and other updates. New Medicaid policies and rates account for much of the changes, ensuring Medicaid regulations are followed and that providers are paid correctly.

As DHHS prepares to switch to the replacement MMIS, the old and new computer systems must be in sync as much as possible. Further emphasizing its commitment to a successful transition, DHHS has enlisted outside evaluators to determine whether the replacement MMIS faces any impediments to successful, punctual completion.

“The best practice of minimizing changes to a system during the final stages of a software development project gives stability to the environment,” said Susan Young, risk management advisor on the MMIS program. “This stability will be critical to enable a more predictable transition and avoid disruption of services to the public when the new MMIS system is scheduled to go live in July.”

Secretary Wos said the only changes to the older system she will approve will be those “that are absolutely necessary to be sure people are getting the services they need and providers are being paid.”

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