States put tech to work on Medicaid enrollment

More than half of states expanded and simplified their Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs’ eligibility, enrollment and renewal procedures in 2011, often using technology to streamline and automate processes.

That efficiency helped states to continue their coverage for low-income adults and children at the same level as the previous year.

[See also: Medicaid enrollment to swell in 2014]

Enhanced federal funding drove many states to begin major development work to modernize decades-old eligibility and enrollment systems.

States will also need Web-based systems that have data analytics and other advanced capabilities to prepare for the millions more of beneficiaries who will enter the system in 2014, according to the annual 50-state Medicaid and CHIP survey released Jan. 18 by the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured and Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

The survey collects new data on key policy actions taken over the last year for the programs, including the growing use of technology to boost program efficiencies and streamline processes and states’ responses to significant new federal financial incentive to upgrade eligibility and enrollment system to prepare for 2014.

[See also: CMS targets fraud with new analytics]

“While strained state budgets have taken a toll on administrative resources, states have sharpened their use of technology and streamlined their procedures to create more efficient programs, while also simplifying the steps for families to enroll in and renew coverage,” the Kaiser report explained.

The kind of progress chronicled for children’s coverage over the years through the Kaiser surveys provide a roadmap for successful implementation of Medicaid expansion in 2014 as part of health reform, said Cindy Mann, deputy administrator and director of Center for Medicaid, CHIP and Survey and Certification at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“But coverage expansion alone is not sufficient. So, we need to simplify the processes, coordinate the systems across programs, focus on technology and modernization, and take advantage of opportunities for outreach,” she said at a briefing for reporters..

Most states held steady in their coverage of low-income individuals and children despite an environment of limited budgets and still too few job opportunities. In addition, federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that had buoyed state budgets expired during 2011, according to the report.