When the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) started the initiative called ACCESS Nebraska, the goal was to modernize service delivery in public programs by moving to a system with increased reliance on technology and fewer personal caseworkers.
But, since its creation, clients have experienced many problems with the new system, including lost documents, long call wait times, and benefit terminations because of reasons other than ineligibility. In the last quarter of 2012, the call abandonment rate for ACCESS Nebraska was 26 percent. This means that a high rate of callers hung up before they were able to receive any help.
“This problem is significant for clients because if they cannot reach the system they cannot obtain the services they need to meet their basic needs and improve their situation,” said James Goddard, Director of Economic Justice and Health Care Access at Nebraska Appleseed.
LB 309 proposes efficiencies that would streamline client case management, making things easier for clients and state workers. It would ensure the benefit programs administered by the ACCESS Nebraska system work together by simplifying documentation requirements, sharing client information across programs, and preventing unnecessary benefit cut offs that can causes clients to “churn” off and on programs.
LB 309 is incredibly important to pass this year because HHS is now moving towards a major change to the current service delivery system, by transitioning Medicaid eligibility determinations out of the Children and Families Division and into the Medicaid and Long-Term Care. LB 309 would ensure that these systems are not completely separate, but instead communicate and share information.
“The changes LB 309 proposes will allow our state’s low-income working families to continue to work hard to improve their situation with less worry that a technical difficulty or human error will prevent them from receiving vital help providing their families’ most basic needs,” Goddard said. “It will also mean less paperwork for caseworkers, potentially lightening the burden they currently face.”