Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Middle of the Week Post UP

The Medicaid Verification Melt Down Arkansas Style

Just in case you've missed the coverage or was to busy with other life matter to get an update or perhaps you may have been directly impacted, there's been a hot mess on the insurance front across the state. Unfortunately there are so many moving parts to this that COP 24/7 will have to "jump" you in to get it all in.

First up, I was a licensed In-person assister which is what Arkansas decided to tag those employed to assist with outreach and enrolling folks in the first wave of the Affordable Care Act circa 2013. I worked with The Living Affected Corporation which secured the contract designated to serve the
LGBTQ community specifically. During that first year, the organization's intrepid troupe drilled down into all things "ACA" to discover early on that this deployment would be a bumpy road for everyone involved.  From the onset, there were training snafus, chaotic updates and then came the website short circuit and pesky paper applications that most of us had never seen. Yet through it all, we preserved to slog through changes, awkward communications, internal struggles and a wary public that we were determined to assist.

I was totally broadsided as we learned that our legislator were in backrooms wheeling and dealing while surgically slicing and dicing the measure that resulted in shutting off the public advertising campaign and later putting the kibosh on allowing AID( Arkansas Insurance Department) to even apply for additional funding to support what we believed was the lifeline of the program through offering direct services to those seeking them.

We learned through our daily debriefings and assessing that health literacy was critical, we recognized that skill level and or training of DHS staff and other supportive staff was seriously lacking, the call center staff was inefficient as well as poorly trained.

 Long ago we found out that folks were just not answering the phones and when they did answer it was frustrating to say the least.

We identified that vital response information was being sent in envelopes marked with "HP" logos which most recipients were tossing in the trash as if it was junk mail. What genius thought to send this type of information in such an envelope without more proper notice on the front. Again this same type of mistake is taking place with verification notices from the "Access Arkansas Processing Center." Surely consumers are probably wondering who are they and why are they sending me a letter!

We also determined that as the funding to support our work with these clients was drying up, who would be available to assist in subsequent enrollment years especially with the added level of madness called the Indy Card, which was thrown in the mix without much notice or understanding.

And now we've bounced through year two wrought with taxes, premium increases and plan changes with open enrollment year three coming this November. In hindsight, we sounded some alarms in the early years that we were heading for a what has resulted in the recent Medicaid verification melt down we are now facing resulting in some 50,000 folks who may have or already have lost their coverage.  This situation has taken more twist and turns as Gov. Hutchinson made a decision that matters should be done in 10 days although DHS has waffled that there's "wiggle room" included. Other talking heads are stating that Arkansas is not alone in this debacle, yet no one was ready to deal with this in an efficient manner without grid lock.

Not to mention that all those enlisted to enroll folks have all be but abandoned ship because there's no money source to support this time consuming work. In other words," don 't call us because we don't get paid to take care of your cancellation."

The core team can attest that this ten day window period without adequate staffing and certainly staff that have a clue, can't be emphasized enough.  And so the great crazy of verifying folks who already are "verifiable" because they've had no changes or very little are now trying to verify that they have nothing to really verify except that this is hiccup is not needed as the next wave of enrollment is set to roll later this year. And let's be clear, there's no plan as yet as to who will actually be in place to take care of anybody...holy insurance!

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Open enrollment coming November 2015!


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