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April 03. 2013 8:02PM

New Medicaid computer system gets the job done

CONCORD - After eight years in development, several cost overruns and a 7 a.m. conference call on Easter Sunday, the state's $90 million Medicaid computer system went live with no major problems, according to Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas, who updated the Governor and Executive Council on one of the state's largest contracts at their regular meeting on Wednesday.

"The first two days have been very successful," he said. "We have processed more than 50,000 claims. We have had issues, as expected, but we had a peak of 300 people on the system at one point, with one-second response times, which is exactly where we needed to be. We've had more than 1,500 phone calls from providers, to walk them through it, and that has all been successful, so we are thrilled in terms of where we are."

The project to upgrade the system used to process Medicaid claims and pay providers began in 2005 with a $60 million price tag. It will link more than 10,000 providers in a network that must ultimately be certified by the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which participated in the launch decision, Toumpas said.

"There are 130,000 people in this state who depend on the services that Medicaid provides," he told the council. "They can only get those services when the providers are being paid."

Toumpas said a rapid response team consisting of 14 department employees is being assisted by on-site experts provided by the system developer, Xerox State Health care. Xerox won the bid for the contract over the previous provider, Electronic Data Systems, now owned by Hewlett-Packard.

Xerox hopes to use New Hampshire as a model to attract business from other states.

"It has been a long journey, and really where we are right now is just at the starting point," said Toumpas. "The state will be able to realize the type of benefits that this system has. It's not just a claims system. It is truly a management information system that will enable us to better manage the second largest program in all of state government. It's got capabilities that are simply not available in any other Medicaid system across the country, and we will be one of the first to have it."

In other action, the council:

--added nearly $5 million to a contract initially approved in October for a statewide health insurance exchange in cooperation with the federal government, under the Affordable Care Act. The additional money brings the total contract with Deloitte Consulting to $33.3 million, 90 percent of which is federally funded. The exchanges would enable consumers to compare health insurance coverage and prices from an online database of approved plans;

--approved state loan guarantees through the Business Finance Authority of $2.72 million for Bio-Concepts Laboratories, a biotech company in Salem. The state guarantees 80 percent of the loan should the borrower default;

--and set the public hearing on the nomination of Joseph A. Foster to succeed Michael A. Delaney as attorney general for 3 p.m., Wednesday, April 10, in council chambers.

dsolomon@unionleader.com


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