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Tech glitches among the top worries as Florida's new Medicaid portal opens

Health News Florida

The MyAccess website is keeping its name but changing its portal, meaning millions of Floridians will have to create a new account — with many in the middle of Medicaid redetermination.

Florida is flipping the switch Tuesday morning on its new online portal for residents who use Medicaid, SNAP food assistance and child care subsidies. The MyAccess website is retaining its name but shifting the technology that runs it.

Meanwhile, Florida is in the middle of its Medicaid unwinding process — the Florida Department of Children & Families is reviewing the eligibility for millions of recipients. The state has made an aggressive push in the redetermination process, terminating 600,000 people in the last six months.

The act of switching technologies in the middle of the process is like throwing gasoline on the Medicaid unwinding fire, said Joan Alker, the executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University, since big technological shifts in health care are often accompanied by glitches.

“To do everybody at once and to do it right in the middle of unwinding, which is already the biggest administrative event to hit the Medicaid program pretty much ever for the state of Florida, really boggles the mind,” she said.

Millions of new accounts

DCF announced the switch earlier in November, but reports of the state working on a new portal have been publicly known much longer. The question experts are left with is, "Why now?"

Current recipients of Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) need to create new accounts starting Tuesday that will then link to their previous MyAccess accounts.

The state’s technology switch will involve over 5 million Medicaid recipients and an additional 3 million SNAP benefit users.

“Just the act of so many millions of people having to set up a new account all at once seems like that's going to be a huge stressor on the system,” Alker said. 

Alker recalled a similar glitch-filled phenomenon when the federal Affordable Care Act rolled out its insurance marketplace portal.

"The Obama administration had to bring in a lot of kind of emergency support, emergency tech support to get that working smoothly. And it took some time," Alker said.

The MyAccess portal won't have to traffic nearly as many users as the ACA program did, but it will still have to accommodate millions of new accounts. The new portal is expected to be mobile-friendly and be available in English, Spanish and Creole.

Tech issues

Once a new account is formed, users should be able to link to their old account and process new applications or renewals, according to DCF.

Prior to opening day, the new website structure does raise some concerns. DCF states that new account-holders will require an email address and the ability to set up two-factor authentication. The latter could be problematic since many Medicaid users are already experiencing technological issues.

Of the nearly 1 million terminated Medicaid recipients, 73%were disenrolled due to procedural reasons — meaning DCF was not able to contact the recipient. That's a problem that includes computer glitches, according to DCF. However, it is unclear what percent of procedural reasons that computer glitches make up as the state does not publish such data.

WMFE reached out to DCF regarding how the switch may affect those in the unwinding process, but it did not respond.

Those with current MyAccess accounts had until the end of the day on Monday to submit any applications or renewals on the old website.

Copyright 2023 WMFE. To see more, visit WMFE.

Joe Mario Pedersen