- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Officials with a state agency that’s been sending inaccurate letters to Tennesseans informing them they don’t qualify for Medicaid say they’re addressing the issue.

The Tennessean (https://tnne.ws/1vO3bJy) reports the letter sent this year were automatically generated by an outdated computer system when someone applies to the Department of Human Services for food stamps.

The computer makes eligibility determinations according to old income guidelines, not the new ones set by the federal health care law. And the letters are coming from an agency that as of Jan. 1 was supposed to stop making Medicaid eligibility determinations for TennCare, Tennessee’s version of Medicaid.

Devin Stone, a communications officer for DHS, says the agency is aware of the issue.

“We … are currently assessing the ability to make modifications without adversely impacting other important services that the legacy system supports,” Stone said. “It should be noted, despite the challenges of transitioning with a legacy system, we are still delivering services. It has not proven to be a barrier to services.”

Chris Coleman, a lawyer with the Tennessee Justice Center who is suing the heads of DHS and TennCare, said the letters are causing harm. The suit accuses the agencies of violating federal law by creating barriers to people seeking enrollment.

“These are totally false notices that are apparently auto-generated with the food stamp notice,” Coleman said. “Individuals receiving these notices may never have applied for TennCare, and they certainly have not been found ineligible.”

TennCare is relying on the old DHS computer because a new $35.7 million system it is building is a year behind schedule. The DHS computer was supposed to have been replaced, but DHS halted work on that project in 2013 after years of missed deadlines and design defects.


Information from: The Tennessean, https://www.tennessean.com

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