Report Shows Problems Still Plague ACCESSNebraska Program - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Report Shows Problems Still Plague ACCESSNebraska Program

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A new report released by the Legislative Performance Audit Committee outlines ACCESSNebraska's failures to meet the needs of Nebraskans attempting to enroll in public benefits.

Wednesday's report stated that the ACCESSNebraska system remains dysfunctional after years of troubles. And Sen. John Harms, chairman of the Performance Audit Committee, said, "This report shows a program that is not meeting the needs of its clients."

The system relies on a web site and call centers to determine whether Nebraskans qualify for public benefits and aids in enrolling in and renewing those benefits. Long call wait times are among the top issues plaguing the program.

Harms says that though significant changes have been made, the committee remains extremely concerned about the program.

One of the changes made took place Oct. 1 when Medicaid eligibility determinations were transferred out of the Children and Family Services Division of the Department of Health and Human Services.

At that time Medicaid cases began to be processed at the Lincoln and Lexington call centers while the Fremont and Scottsbluff call centers process all other benefits, such as SNAP and daycare. However, the audit did not include an analysis of this change.

In a response from DHHS, the department addressed the issue of long call wait times, attributing it to several extraordinary circumstances including staff transitions and training requirements related to the call center restructuring, as well as periodic system outages.

Additionally, Children and Family Services recently told the Audit Office that call center phone and computer problems have decreased, but the office is unsure whether these changes will resolve the program's issues.

Senator Harms said tragically the website has hurt clients. "Access Nebraska just doesn't work very well."

The changes made to medicaid might have helped said Sen. Harms but the DHHS still have a long way to go. "They had all those issues together, I think it over boarded the system but I think even separating  Medicaid out, they're still going to have problems because whether you're in Medicaid or Access Nebraska you'll go back and forth between the two systems."

A new software system is what the senator believes it'll take to fix the issues.

The report can be viewed in its entirety at NebraskaLegislature.gov.

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