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Oops! Computer loses Medicaid files

By Carol Gentry 
8/4/2009 © Health News Florida

About 1 million Medicaid patient, mostly children, were wrongly dropped from the August eligibility rolls over the weekend because of a computer glitch, the Agency for Health Care Administration has confirmed. 

Of those, 400,000 enrolled in managed care were never at risk because plans had already sent their names to doctors' offices, said AHCA spokeswoman Shelisha Durden. The mistake had been corrected as of Tuesday morning, she said.

The patients who were dropped were mainly families with children, rather than the elderly and disabled, she said. Among them, the only ones who would have been affected were those who sought medical care during the glitch and didn't have their Medicaid cards on them.

"The Agency is not aware of anyone being denied needed care," she said.

It's not clear what triggered the computer problem at EDS, the company that AHCA pays to manage the Medicaid payment system.  EDS' spokesman declined to comment, referring questions to AHCA.

"The Agency is working with EDS to determine the cause and to ensure that this does not happen again," Durden said. 

Medicaid officials became aware of the problem on Monday morning, she said, having been alerted by EDS. Since the eligibility change -- if accurate -- would have gone into effect on Aug. 1, it seems logical that the glitch began on Saturday. An EDS worker discovered it in a routine check, Durden said.

AHCA made no public announcement about the problem. Health News Florida learned of it through an e-mail from one state worker to others that was forwarded on.

About 2.6 million Floridians are enrolled in Medicaid. Most are enrolled through the Department of Children and Families. DCF spokeswoman Pat Smith said when DCF learned of the problem Monday, it sent messages to all 79 call centers to let workers know how to handle it if questions arose. 

--Carol Gentry can be reached at 727-410-3266 or by e-mail.