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By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – A three-year, $105 million contract to build a new IT platform connecting the state of Rhode Island’s health care technology infrastructure has been awarded to Deloitte Consulting, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee announced Thursday.
The new IT platform will enable the R.I. Health Benefits Exchange to employ an eligibility process as part of its online marketplace to purchase health insurance as well as modernize the way that the Rhode Island administers its Medicaid and human services programs.
The new technology will improve efficiency at Rhode Island’s human services programs by updating the more than 20-year-old systems currently in use. The technology infrastructure will streamline the process for those who qualify for benefits, and make it easier to identify instances of fraud or abuse. The new system will also provide enhanced customer service and assistance for Rhode Islanders with questions or problems.
“Rhode Island has been a national leader in changing our health care system for the better – and this new technology will allow us to move forward even more effectively,” said Chafee in a statement. “The exchange is a key component in our ongoing efforts to make health care more affordable for Rhode Island individuals and employers and to make the process of attaining that health care easier and more efficient.”
“Our early decision to integrate the development of technology for both the exchange and Health and Human Services systems places Rhode Island at the forefront as an innovator nationally,” Steven M. Costantino, secretary of the R.I. Executive Office of Health and Human Services, said in prepared remarks. “This investment will modernize and improve the overall process for Rhode Islanders who deserve an accountable, customer focused, and easy to navigate experience.”
Deloitte, one of the nation’s leading providers of information technology services, was chosen after a competitive procurement from among three qualified national firms that responded to the state’s request for proposals, according to state officials. The depth and breadth of Deloitte’s experience includes health care reform or health insurance exchange-related projects in 10 states and four federal agencies.
“Deloitte understands the challenges of meeting the requirements of a significant mandate like the Affordable Care Act, and we look forward to helping Rhode Island build a system that meets the specific needs of its citizens,” said Patrick Howard, a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and head of the Deloitte U.S. Firms’ State Health Care practice.
Roughly 84 percent of the contract will be paid for with federal grants to build the exchange (about $28 million) as well as federal funds (about $58 million) available through Medicaid, according to Chafee spokeswoman Christine Hunsinger. The remaining contract costs will be paid from state coffers from the Department of Human Services (about $8 million) and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (about $5 million).
In total, the project, known as the Unified Health Infrastructure Project, will take five years to complete. It has been described in planning documents for the exchange as the “the largest multiagency systems build in the history of the state.”