NCFast: Should We Go Back to Atari???

Computer systems have come a long way. I remember my Tandy3000 when I was growing up (which had Lotus Notes on it). I also remember the best video game was Pong. Yes, slowly, we advanced to Pac Man, Q-bert and Frogger. But when I bought (actually when my parents bought) my Atari, it worked as expected. When I wanted to play the Decathlon, if I wiggled my joy stick fast enough, I could be an Olympian. When I pushed the jump button for Donkey Kong, Mario jumped.

So, now in this day and age of computer advancement, someone please tell me why computer systems put into place in NC for DHHS simply do not work, have glitches, and fail. Seriously! Why, with a price tag of $21 million and counting (although one journalist cites the price tag at $48 million), why does NCFast not work??? NCFast is simply not fast. NCSlow would be more apropos.

NCFast has a Medicaid eligibility backlog of approximately 86,000 applications.

While the food stamp backlog has mostly been cleared, an even larger backlog is looming. Acting Medicaid Director Sandy Terrell warned lawmakers that nearly 86,000 Medicaid applications are delayed beyond federal processing timelines.

Why is a backlog of Medicaid eligibility important?

Imagine you are on Medicaid and pregnant. You apply for Medicaid for your unborn child. And the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) tells you that there is a backlog. Your child is born (healthy), but you cannot take your baby to the pediatrician for the first check-up because the baby has not received a Medicaid card.

Or imagine you are an adult on Medicaid suffering from cancer. April 1, 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) re-processes your Medicaid eligibility. You have been on Medicaid for years and depend on Medicaid to get your monthly prescriptions for pain, etc. But now it is May 6, 2014, and your Medicaid eligibility has not been processed. You go to the pharmacy that you go to every month and the pharmacist says, “Sorry. We cannot give out medication hoping to get paid in the future. Your Medicaid application has not been processed.”

Are we as North Carolinians just doomed to hire contractors who cannot meet the standards required? Or are we poorly choosing contractors? Are these contractors overstating their abilities? Or are we not conducting due diligence to determine whether these contractors are overstating their abilities?

What if Superman told us, “Trust me! I can fly! I am super strong! I will foil all of your villains!” Only to find out that Superman is Verne Troyer in costume?

Why should we care?

Three reasons:

1. People are not getting food stamps in a timely way.
2. People are not getting Medicaid eligibility applications timely processed.
3. We, as taxpayers, paid for this computer system and expect it to run reasonably well.

My Atari, at least, met expectations!

About kemanuel

Medicare and Medicaid Regulatory Compliance Litigator

Posted on May 7, 2014, in DHHS, Division of Medical Assistance, Health Care Providers and Services, Media, Medicaid, Medicaid Eligibility, Medicaid Recipients, Medicaid Services, NC, NCFast, North Carolina, Number of Medicaid Enrollees, Sandy Terrell, Tax Dollars, Taxes, Taxpayers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Jeannie Garrett

    Amen!! There is no excuse for this mess.

  2. Not only aer the problems listed above, but when entering claims in the NC Tracks system that system is failing, also. Information entered is not retained upon submitting the claim AND when attemtping to look at claim status the line item choosen is not what comes up. I have been told “This is a high priority item , and has a Development Date of 5/9/14
    so will be in production pretty quickly” I echo your question…with the cost of the system why doesn’t it work?

  3. The problems are the result of beginning vast programs with half-vast ideas. Healthcare.gov and most of the state Obamacare exchanges have had similar problems, some so severe that the state exchanges are being abandoned. Solid requirements documents, adequate development time and rigorous, extensive testing are absolute essentials, frequently ignored.

    Einstein observed that “the solution to a problem should be as simple as possible, but no simpler”. Similarly, Yogi Berra observed that “90% of putts that are short don’t go in the cup”.

  4. Joseph L Godfrey MD

    The more inefficient a managed care organization is, the more money it makes. That’s their job, not providing services in a timely manner.

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