Tuesday, October 20th, 2015
Morris County has initiated a new state-approved and state-financed pilot program for Medicaid that will employ an outside contractor, Xerox Corp., to process tens of thousands of Medicaid eligibility determinations annually, which should reduce case backlogs and result in more timely decisions, without adding new full-time staff to the county’s payroll.
The County Department of Human Services recently finalized a Memorandum of Understanding with the state Department of Human Services to shift the processing of Medicaid eligibility determinations from the County Welfare Office to Xerox, which is the state’s Health Benefits Coordinator.
However, long term care and emergency applications will remain with the county. Also, county employees will continue to assist clients to apply for Medicaid on-line using the NJ FamilyCare application that will be sent directly to Xerox for processing.
The transfer of Medicaid determinations will free up county Human Services employees to provide additional support in other benefit programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, General Assistance and Supplemental Nutritional Assistance.
“This pilot program will have a positive impact on our community, reducing the backlogs and wait times, better serving individuals, families, seniors, people with disabilities and veterans, while also benefitting the taxpayers of Morris County,” said Freeholder Hank Lyon, who is the county governing board’s liaison on Human Services issues.
“For the past several years, the economic climate has been fraught with challenges for government, particularly for the Human Services system,’’ said Morris County Director of Human Services Jennifer Carpinteri. “With the implementation of Medicaid expansion and changes in various funding streams that support some of our most critical services, we must look at our infrastructure to find efficiencies while continuing to provide high quality services.”
The goals of the Morris County pilot project are to improve timely and appropriate eligibility determinations and improve customer experience:
All new and re-determination community Medicaid cases in Morris County would be shifted to Xerox. As of Oct. 15, there were 33,253 Medicaid cases in Morris County in 2015.
New Morris County applicants would be directed to apply online at njfamilycare.org. Online applications would be routed electronically to the Health Benefits Coordinator’s state-approved system, which would assume responsibility for the case with state oversight.
Morris County will maintain eligibility determination responsibility for all new and existing long-term care, aged, blind and disabled, and medical emergency cases.
Some Morris County staff will be re-assigned to provide additional workers in other units to reduce backlogs and help meet compliance and timelines issues in other benefit programs.
This pilot will allow the county to ensure federal compliance without hiring additional staff.
As a result of Medicaid expansion in 2014, county caseloads increased by more than 50 percent statewide, including in Morris County. County welfare agencies struggled to keep pace with increased volume. It resulted in significant backlogs in Morris County.
To reduce the strain, the state shifted pending cases and new online applications to Xerox. While this action helped a bit, Morris County still was unable to keep pace with the need for public assistance. The new pilot project is expected to make a major difference.
“This “out-of-the-box” business model will be the first of its kind in New Jersey, and the state and county are equally motivated to explore this pilot together,” said Valerie Harr, Director of the Department of Human Services’ Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services, which administers Medicaid.
“Partnering with the state is advantageous to both the state and Morris County,” she added.
To further explore efficiencies, Morris County will partner with community providers to assist clients is applying for Medicaid online, with applications sent directly to Xerox for processing. This is an opportunity to potentially save transportation costs and overtime costs, while fostering a client-friendly approach to accessing services.