HHSC had a plan to make sure the state could handle an influx in applications when the federal Marketplace opened October 1. Those would be sent to a special team, sparing field offices from the extra workload. That plan quickly unraveled when the federal government was unable to transfer cases to states for months, creating a logjam of work that hit all at once. Eligibility staff across Texas were called on to process more than 100,000 applications as quickly as possible. They rolled up their sleeves and moved the mountain.
“Our original plan was to use our Assistance Response Team and our Quality Assurance field staff – people who are out doing case reading and monitoring,” said Kirsten Jumper, who was responsible for developing HHSC’s plan for the processing of transfers from the federal Marketplace. “We would train them and just route these transfers to one queue and let those staff work them all.”
The state has sent introductory letters and an enrollment packet to about 134,000 people affected by the expansion of STAR+PLUS on September 1. Medicaid clients affected by the change have until August 15 to pick a medical plan and, if they’re not covered by Medicare, a main doctor.
HHSC is expecting to begin a new Medicaid benefit that will allow the state to maximize federal dollars to provide attendant and habilitation services for people with disabilities who have Medicaid coverage on March 1, 2015.
A newly announced pilot program aims to allow Texans with both Medicaid and Medicare coverage to combine them into one managed care health plan, making it easier to get care and saving money for federal and state taxpayers.
There are plenty of behind-the-scenes changes going on within HHSC’s Medical Transportation Program, but it should business as usual for those who use the nonemergency transportation services, Or perhaps business better than usual.