DSS works to eliminate Medicaid backlog

Jul. 09, 2014 @ 02:41 PM

According to the White House, more than 6 million people nationwide have signed up for health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act. In Davidson County, staff members of the Department of Social Services are working feverishly through the summer months to ensure that number rises.

Dale Moorefield, who serves as DSS director, credits the work of his staff – which will soon include six new part-time positions – for reducing a backlog of individuals applying for Medicaid through the NC FAST computer program. Federal regulations require states to process applications within 45 days.

The new staff members join the fray this month to eliminate more of the backlog in compliance with this and other federal regulations.

On June 24, the Davidson County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved an allowance of $26,672.58 for these six temporary income maintenance technician positions that will pay each individual $12 per hour. Seventy-five percent of the salaries will be paid by the Department of Health and Human Services, while 25 percent will be paid by the county.

“We were approved to add six additional income maintenance technicians,” Moorefield said. “The six [new hires] will work alternating shifts with our pre-existing staff so that we have somebody working from around 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. That limits the amount [of work]. We're hoping this will be temporary.”

According to Moorefield, the entire state is experiencing an epidemic of delays in its assistance programs. North Carolina ranks among the states most swamped by Medicaid applications, with more than 170,000 overdue. This staggering number caught the attention of the federal government, which has placed additional pressure on departments to address the issue.

Most recently, DSS departments in North Carolina were notified by the federal Department of Health and Human Services that if they were unable to reconcile hundreds – and in some cases, thousands – of food and nutrition applications, funding for various programs would be terminated.

“This is something that is happening statewide,” said Moorefield. “The state has a goal to get the backlog cleared up by Aug. 31.”

Despite the 400-plus outstanding Medicaid applications, Moorefield said the county is in good shape relative to the rest of the state. Several larger counties, he said, have thousands upon thousands of overdue applications.

“We're going to utilize this staff, and we’re fortunate to be able to do this,” he said. “Our county has 419 applications overdue. When we added these positions, we had 558, so we've worked that number down already. It's a testament to how hard the staff is working. They've been putting in overtime.”

Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 847-9911, or at kennedy@tvilletimes.com.