- Associated Press - Friday, October 21, 2016

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A backlog of public assistance applications has grown to nearly 8,400 following the troubled rollout of Rhode Island’s new $364 million benefits system.

State health officials said Friday the already-high backlog has grown by another 335 since Tuesday, in part because more applications were filed.

The new computer system, known as the Unified Health Infrastructure Project, went live on Sept. 13. It handles applications for food stamps, Medicaid benefits and other services.

The state House of Representatives oversight and finance committees held an hours-long hearing Thursday where officials from Gov. Gina Raimondo’s administration were grilled about the problems.

Rep. Patricia Serpa, the West Warwick Democrat who leads the oversight committee, says launching the system despite a federal official warning it wasn’t ready was an unacceptable blunder affecting thousands of people.

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