Committee Approves More Funding for IT System, Hopes To Ease Backlog Issue

by David Gorn

TOPIC ALERT:

An Assembly budget subcommittee yesterday voted to approve an additional $73 million for the state's eligibility and enrollment IT effort, bringing the total expenditure approval for the CalHEERS computer system to $160 million.

The upgrade is needed to successfully implement provisions of the Affordable Care Act, said Matt Schueller, budget officer with California's Office of Systems Integration.

"The proposal before you is a request to align expenditure authority for the Office of Systems Integration for project costs that are to be reimbursed by Covered California and the Department of Health Care Services."

The money will be used, in part, to update CalHEERS  -- the California Healthcare Eligibility, Enrollment and Retention System -- with the specific goal of reducing a backlog of roughly 900,000 Medi-Cal applicants. The delayed applications have  created confusion and concern among applicants  and relief cannot come soon enough, said Elizabeth Landsberg, director of legislative advocacy for the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

"There is still a pretty significant Medi-Cal backlog," Landsberg said. "We very much appreciate the focus on trying to clear up the backlog and make the system improvements and capacity improvements needed."

The funding increase was approved on a 3-1 vote.


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