NCTracks, “Ready or Not, Here I Come!”

Remember hide and seek when you were a kid? After counting (really fast) I’d always yell out, “Ready or not, here I come!” But never, during all those childhood years playing hide and seek, did I actually pause after I screamed, “Ready or not, here I come,” and try to determine whether my opponent was, in fact ready.  Oh no!  Instead, I opened my eyes immediately after yelling “here I come,” and began my pursuit.

Today, July 1, 2013, whether you are ready or not, NCTracks has gone live.

NCTracks replaces North Carolina Medicaid’s 35-year-old billing system (MMIS).

The Office of State Auditor , run by Beth Wood, conducted a performance audit of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) released May 2013, which said DHHS failed to fully test NCTracks, a $484 million computer system scheduled to begin processing Medicaid claims on July 1. The performance audit period covered August 29, 2012, through March 16, 2013, the period between the start and rescheduled end dates of the main final testing phases. The audit fieldwork was conducted from February 11, 2013, to March 18, 2013.  you can find the full audit findings here.

The Key Findings of the audit were:

  • The Department has failed to fully test the system, and the production testing process had flaws.
  • Key decisions about the addition of 1,500 user accounts and privacy and security procedures have yet to be made, increasing uncertainty about project readiness.
  • A vendor hired to oversee the project did not conduct independent verifications as expected by the federal agency that administers Medicaid, and another vendor was permitted to set its own guidelines for whether its work was acceptable.
  • No formal criteria exists to determine whether the new system is ready to go-live.

Furthermore, according to the audit, of 834 “Critical Priority Test Cases” set to be performed on the new system, it failed 123. The audit says 285 of the “critical” tests, more than one-quarter, were never performed.

The audit also states that DHHS failed to adequately supervise the audit….hmmm…a common theme?

Well, regardless, NCTracks is here and live.

I have no information as to how NCTracks is working, so anyone who has already used NCTracks, let me know.

On the bright side, DHHS definitely held its number of provider workshops on education for providers regarding NCTracks.  One of my clients informed me he was in a 3-day class to learn about NCTracks. 3 days? Is NCTracks that difficult? If so, why? I can only imagine how many providers did NOT attend a workshop, considering how busy most providers are.

Other “good factors” about NCTracks…Supposedly, a provider will know almost immediately whether Medicaid will reimburse the provider for services rendered.  And the new system certainly cuts down the use of paper. Of course, these are all factors IF NCTracks is successful.

It is anticipated that NCTracks will process about 88 million claims annually valued at $12 billion from more than 70,000 providers.

But what if NCTracks fails? I’ve seen no contingency plan.  I am sure that, as with all big transitions, there will be bumps in the road.  But bumps, in this case, would mean providers not being reimbursed for Medicaid services rendered.  There are only so many bumps Medicaid providers can take. Good luck!

Ready or not, here I come!

If you have issues, the phone number for technical issues is 1-800-688-6696.

About kemanuel

Medicare and Medicaid Regulatory Compliance Litigator

Posted on July 1, 2013, in Beth Wood, DHHS, Division of Medical Assistance, Health Care Providers and Services, Medicaid, Medicaid Audits, Medicaid Reform, Medicaid Reimbursements, Medicaid Services, NCTracks, North Carolina, Office of State Auditor and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. Swaringen, Chanda Leigh Royster

    I would say they were NOT ready but we went live or tried to, this is the message we were giving most of the day.

    NOTICE: NCTRACKS System Maintenance is Occurring

    We are performing scheduled maintenance, please check back again soon.

    (En Espaol) AVISO: El mantenimiento del sistema se est produciendo NCTRACKS

    Estamos realizando el mantenimiento programado, por favor, vuelva ms tarde.

    ________________________________

  2. System is failing, we either can’t get a login or the system says we don’t have access…shameful.

  3. Heather Griffin

    I’m waiting to see if claims will actually process this week. My opinion after one day…I think the system is incredibly slow and I’ve yet to be able to check a recipient’s eligibility. Our tax dollars at work. At least the old MIS system worked.

  4. Day one = Failure- To not be able to determine eligibility from the start of day one line is disgraceful – end who will pay the price? The providers.

  5. Awful, Awful Awful. I spenty 14 hours yesterday filing claims. I am only halfway thru – what used to take 4 or 5 hours. It is almost imossible to get logged in and then it times you out at least 75% of the time after you are fully into filing a claim and have to start over. How could they not be ready for the volume and amount of users? It was no surprise to anyone. Also I have bneen obn a 2 hour wait (by their own admission) for the help desk. Their answer: try loggin in at a different time. Unbelievable. If I performed my job this incompetently – I would be fired.

    • Have you attempted to submit a claim via an ACH, or do you not use one?

      We’re waiting to see if we want to submit any claims this week, but I guess it won’t hurt…I guess.

  6. WE do not use an ACH. If you can afford to wait a week – I would. I have gotten 1 claim to go in since 10am est this morning. IT is now 11:31am est. Truly is scary the level of how badly this was screwd up.

    • I submitted via an ACH and discovered the Taxonomy caveat (go figure, something I can’t put into an EMR to submit) but so far, I am waiting for submission to NCtracks to see if it gets accepted.

  7. Newspapers are reporting “minor glitches”. The NC Tracks website says “Provider portal is experiencing some performance issues.”

    These are blatant lies.

    Our center has not been able to log on and perform ANY task within this system YET.

    If you are lucky enough to proceed from the login page to the actual system any function you click on will produce a white screen that says the system is down for maintenance.

    We are getting ready to start rescheduling Medicaid patients as we cannot obtain prior approval for ultrasounds scheduled for tomorrow. I was given a “temporary prior approval” phone number this morning after holding for one hour. When my sonographer called back to use this “temporary” process she was told no (after holding for another hour) that there is NO temporary prior approval process everything must be entered via the portal which she cannot access because the system does not work!

    So I am now on the phone with another one hour projected wait time (provided by their phone system) to find out why I was given this information this morning and why there is not backup plan for prior approval or anything else for that matter.

    • Holy cow! That’s awful. Do you think these are glitches that are easily fixed? I wonder whether the glitches are widespread across NC.

      • Since this is a centralized system, hosted on CSC servers on their CSC network, this would be a problem for anyone working with NCTracks.

        [enviro@mail4 ~]$ host http://www.nctracks.nc.gov
        http://www.nctracks.nc.gov is an alias for nctracks.nc.gov.
        nctracks.nc.gov has address 12.204.168.100

        AT&T Services, Inc. ATT (NET-12-0-0-0-1) 12.0.0.0 – 12.255.255.25
        CSC – EMEDNY CSC—EM38-168 (NET-12-204-168-0-1) 12.204.168.0 – 12.204.168.255

        Thus, anyone accessing this system will hit this address, which are their servers hosting this application. Appears to me like they either have: bandwidth issues, database connectivity issues, code issues, or they’re having problem load balancing their incoming traffic. Perhaps a mixture of both.

        Sounds to me like they need to “own it” and come out and say their testing was insufficient and likely the cause of all these issues.

  8. Horrible. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to enter claims for days. Each time I get the message posted by Chandra above before I can finish. I can’t believe that DHHS is allowed to get away with this.

  9. We are on day 3 and I have yet put in one claim! We see patients all over the state of NC in nursing homes so 85% of my patients are Medicaid. It is a shame that NCTracks did not fully test this system and that DHHS did not find it top priority to say on this! I called to see if there was a time line as to when the system will be “up and running” and I was told to give it an hour then try and log back on…….REALLY!!!!!
    oh and that was on day one and here it is day three and I still have the same issues!

  10. We’re attempting to upload electronic 837’s via a billing agent, and it’s been in “pending status” since Monday to no avail. Anyone else billing this way and actually getting it to go through?

    • Forgive me for asking, but a “billing agent”? Are you talking about using an ACH to submit your claims?

      My ACH shows the eclaim was sent as of this morning, submitted yesterday afternoon, and I have yet to see an acknowledgement from NCtracks.

  11. A clearinghouse is what I’m referring to.

  12. So far, when the claims go through, you’re fine. It is liquid fast in processing but the error codes can be cryptic at times. The problem most people are having now, is the ability for providers to enroll. Seems they can’t get their connection to the NPPES database to return the proper results and they have NO ETR for this; thus, anyone applying is stuck in limbo until they fix their issues

  13. Well..I stayed on the phone 57 mins this morning to only be told the complete error description for my denied claim. I asked the help desk rep, can you please step through the process of filing the claim for PCS. I was then given information to the NC DMA site (outdated info – they still have the old HP site info up), upcoming webinars (live so to speak) and so forth.

    But, I’ve have yet to see any “concrete” examples of claim processes for various group settings. They’ve all been so generic, it’s not helpful at all. I went to a class in Greensboro, NC 2-months ago. The trainer didn’t have specifics, just generalities.

    I’ve been in IT over 18 yrs, specifically in Application/Development and I knew this rollout was gonna be bad. I’ve called Vendors and they hadn’t figured it out yet.

    I gave the help desk person this AM some ideas…She actually took notes! That was my highlight of claim processing with NC Tracks today. By the way, 2 days of trying to submit a claim. Unsuccessful! Trial & Error right now!

    Much Love!

  14. So far, so good. Payments are going through and we’re getting remittance immediately!

    The current issues we’re having is their link to the NPPES, it appears they’re returning null values from the database or there isn’t any communication at all…hard to tell. Thus, if you’re looking to enroll as a provider, good luck, because NCTracks has no ETR for their connection to NPPES.

    Also, if you had a application in process during the migration, I was told their database crashed and they’ve basically lost all their data, remember, these are people who aren’t paid much who are trying to relay information they probably don’t understand and they’re probably under trained and under paid; thus, you may just want to start a new application; however, you may run into the NPPES issue with them not being able to verify your NPI…a conundrum!

    Also, as a tidbit of advice, remember that your Taxonomy codes MUST be updated to reflect those allowed, a simple process for CEPs.

  15. I am responding to this information from a pediatric dental practice, Coastal Pediatric Dentistry, in New Bern, NC. We are dealing with a nightmare situation with NCTracks so far. Our taxonomy number has defaulted to another number which is not dental so I have been told that the reason all of our claims have denied is because of the wrong taxonomy number. The person that I spoke with at NCTracks said she couldn’t access our provider profile to tell me how to fix the problem. So here we sit with hundreds of Medicaid claims denied. How long can a practice continue like this?

    • Not long, I would suppose. How can the people at NCTracks NOT be able to access a provider profile??

      • There is a link that NC Tracks has out that will help with Taxonomy problems. When you log on to NC Tracks go to Providers then scroll all the way down (do not go in the Portal) you will see a blue link named Taxonomy Tutorial Available. It is a PDF file but it should help you.
        Good Luck.

  16. Small therapy and Infant Toddler(SLP, OT PT, CBRS) providers are being hit hard. Another long work week has come to an end with no hope of reimbursement in sight. We have to continue to serve our families indefinitely or run the risk of losing our entire caseloads, which would cause us to have no choice but to shut the doors. We have been a small, but successful CBRS provider agency for 9 years (ironically, July 1 was our 9 year anniversary), but NC Tracks may just do us in. We are being told it is our EFT info that is keeping us from getting reimbursement. We submitted our EFT info on 5/17 but it did not show up in the NCT system until 7/10. We could not fix or check on anything ourselves because the Status and Management Change option in the Provider Portal was not functioning for us from 7/1 until 7/16! On 7/10, a rep verified and re-submitted the EFT info. It’s 9 days later and still nothing has shown up at our bank. The supervisor I talked to today sounded so proud when he announced, ” I have found out what your problem is! You are still in pre-note because your bank has not responded. I had to explain again that it is a system error on their part. It looks like it has been sent out, but it never shows up at our bank. This is apparently a common problem and there has to be a fix for my agency and quite a few of my colleagues before we all just go under.

    • We are having the same issue. where the payment looks as if it has been sent out. But there is nothing in the bank. I have spoke to a supervisor hopefully this issue gets addressed immediately.

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