Gov. Pete Ricketts' administration is blaming the Department of Health and Human Services' computer system for not being able to meet the will of the people to provide expanded Medicaid benefits mandated by the recently passed ballot initiative.
As a recently retired, nearly 40-year DHHS employee with the final 20 years as a business systems analyst for the NFOCUS benefits eligibility and determination system, I can state that NFOCUS can be quickly modified to accommodate any changes required.
Changes involving additional income and resource guidelines can be easily made by the Jan. 1, 2020, deadline. Substantial program deviations, such as a tiered benefit system, could be incorporated into the system once approved.
NFOCUS is said by many to be one of the best eligibility and delivery systems in the country. The so-called computer problems referred to in a recent editorial ("Medicaid expansion timeline a mixed bag," April 14) have nothing to do with the NFOCUS system but with the system contracted to replace it.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed in 2010 and slated to begin January 1, 2014. Then-Gov. Dave Heineman delayed approving implementation until early 2013. This meant major changes to Medicaid rules and regulations had to be accomplished quickly. DHHS program and NFOCUS systems teams were able in eight months to meet the ACA open enrollment deadline of October 1, 2013, and have the new rules in the system on time on January 1, 2014.
This demonstrates the NFOCUS system's ability to update changes quickly and efficiently. Medicaid expansion changes could easily be made by January 1, 2020.
NFOCUS continues to provide eligibility and delivery services for Medicaid, SNAP and about 20 other DHHS-administered programs.
When voters passed Initiative 427 in November, they provided a plan and rules to expand Medicaid. The Ricketts administration only needs to direct DHHS to deliver.
Denise Manton, Lincoln