NC DHHS’ Software Armageddon

North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is responsible for the launch of two new software systems this year that have experienced significant problems, and things likely will get worse before they get better.

The first problem you've probably heard about: DHHS' rollout of the NC FAST system to handle food benefits, aka food stamps, has been problematic around the state and has led to local agencies working with local food banks to make sure people have access to food until their benefit situation can be straightened out. The problem is that NC FAST is supposed to also handle Medicaid claims as of October 1 and it seems highly unlikely it will be able to do so particularly in light of DHHS' other, less well known software snafu.

Earlier this year DHHS rolled out NCTracks which is a new system to process professional Medicaid claims otherwise known as claims from doctors, medical groups, hospitals and other health care providers. That system is so screwed up that some independent practices have already gone out of business. From an article at

Karimi, 28, had worked for his parents for the past five years. Their company, Right at Home, had provided home health and personal care to the elderly and people with disabilities in Granite Falls. Karimi handled the billing.

But now Karimi is out of a job and his parents are out of business after a decade. The reason? They weren’t being paid for the Medicaid-reimbursed services they delivered in July and August after the state rolled out its new Medicaid payment system, known as NCTracks…

And it’s not just small providers who are having trouble.

In an interview last week, WakeMed CEO Bill Atkinson said his institution was down $1.5 million since July 1 because of NCTracks. He worried that his billers would have to re-submit all of those claims by hand.

It would be easy to blame the current administration for all this  but the reality is that these systems were contracted long before Gov. McCrory was elected and his folks now have the unenviable task of implementing very complex systems that affect a lot of people. If the response to client issues has been as slow or nonexistent as is being claimed by folks interviewed for these stories then the new administration, and by administration I mean Gov. McCrory's appointees at DHHS, needs to take responsibility and do whatever is necessary to get people the help they need. If they don't we'll be looking at a lot of lost jobs in the health care industry, and in particular we could see some small medical practices under severe stress or maybe even folding.
Glitches happen and anyone who's been through a systems upgrade knows they rarely if ever go as planned, but how an organization responds to those glitches is where the "men are separated from the boys" and right now the DHHS folks look like a bunch of little boys at recess the day after Halloween trying to burn off all the sugar they had the night before.

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