Special Master: UHIP backlog ‘substantially eliminated,’ more work remains

PROVIDENCE — Deming Sherman, special master managing Rhode Island’s resolution of continuing software and management problems with the Unified Health Infrastructure Project computer system, reports the state has whittled down the backlog of applicants and is planning a software update as a state cost estimate on the fix stands at $491.7 million.

The estimate, which comes from a state progress report released Friday, includes $108 million in state dollars, said Kyrie Perry, director of communications at HealthSource Rhode Island.

Sherman, named Special Master in early November, said work begun prior to his appointment has largely eliminated the backlog of applicants for SNAP benefits.

“The backlogs have been substantially eliminated,” Sherman said.

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Sherman said he filed a report with the court to that effect Friday.

However, Sherman noted, “The system still has flaws,”

Some of those flaws will be addressed by a significant software update the contractor that devised the new UHIP claim processing software, Deloitte, is making in February, Deming said. Deming noted this effort was also in progress prior to his appointment as Special Master.

He said he is in the process of addressing other flaws, which he will begin tackling with officers at Deloitte next week.

Among those flaws, Deming said, is unreasonable wait times at the UHIP call center in Pawtucket. Callers to that system are experiencing wait times of two to three hours before being served, Deming said.

“That’s just unacceptable,” Deming said.

Deming said he expects the solution will require a combination of additional staff, better staff, and technological upgrades.

“We are monitoring Deloitte’s work closely, and will continue to not pay them until we have the system we envisioned. In addition to Deloitte’s credit of $27 million in April, State leadership negotiated a credit from Deloitte of $58.6 million which will provide for maintenance and operations through June of 2018 and will offset additional, unanticipated costs from personnel and contractors related to supporting implementation of the system,” Perry said.

 She added that the RI Bridges Leadership team is working collaboratively to ensure that every dollar of taxpayers’ money invested in the project is closely managed.

“All projected contracted costs are subject to State procurement processes and further approval by FNS and CMS. All contracts, including the one with Deloitte, will also have clear key performance indicators that are aligned to our overall goals for system performance,” Perry said.

Rob Borkowski is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Borkowski@PBN.com.