Welcome! Login | Register

Subscribe Now: Free Daily EBlast

 
 

Biggest Questions Facing Raimondo Administration’s Botched $500M UHIP Rollout

Thursday, October 20, 2016

 

Members of Governor Gina Raimondo's administration will face questioning on Thursday at the State House as to the "botched" UHIP rollout.

Concerns over the “botched rollout” of Rhode Island’s United Health Infrastructure Project (UHIP) have the House Finance and Oversight Committees set to grill members of the Raimondo administration at a hearing at the State House at 3 p.m. on Thursday.

Both committee chairs -- as well as Republican leaders -- are raising questions pertaining to how the new computer system missed payments for 29,000 Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients and Supplemental Nutritional Assistant Program (SNAP) benefits were not disbursed to some recipients at the beginning of the month, as well as how the state is containing skyrocketing costs. 

SLIDES: UHIP Questions RI Leaders Want Answers To BELOW

“Impatience on behalf of state agencies’ leaders and inadequate preparation resulted in a half-baked program being thrust upon Rhode Islanders. This time, it went beyond embarrassment and inconvenience, leaving our most vulnerable citizens — children, the elderly, the disabled, the needy  — without support. This avoidable blunder affected thousands of human lives, and those responsible for it should account for their actions,” said Finance Chairwoman Patricia Serpa.

Rhode Island's biggest-ever IT project launched at the end of September — and what was originally a $135 million budget turned into $364 million last year. The state is requesting an additional $124 million in federal funding that would bring the total to nearly a half billion dollars, for roughly $487.4 million from 2011 though 2018.

Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello said he is looking for answers on Thursday. 

“I want to be sure that proper testing was done to uncover and correct defects in the system.  I understand nothing of this nature is rolled out flawlessly, but I do want to know if we ignored the advice of highly paid IT experts and representatives from federal government as to whether this system was ready to serve RI and its neediest citizens from day one,” said Mattiello. “We will be looking for the Administration to provide detailed corrective actions for each of the issues identified so that we have an accurate, effective and sustainable system that does what it is supposed to do.”

Former gubernatorial candidate and vocal UHIP critic Ken Block, whose taxpayer advocacy group WatchdogRI has already raised questions about the rollout — said he questioned the effectiveness of a House inquiry, however. 

“My only comment will be that I hope that this hearing is far more substantive than the community grant hearings,” said Block of the hearing, which will not include public testimony. 

Program Critics Take Aim

A starter set of 20 questions was sent to Secretary of Health and Human Services Elizabeth Roberts (see slideshow below) ahead of Thursday's hearing.

Representative Mike Chippendale, who is the Co-Vice Chair of the House Oversight Committee, said his intent Thursday is to “learn whether or not the Administration proceeded with the roll-out against the advice of the federal government, and at risk to potentially heavy federal fines, or did they act on the advice of the vendor.”

“First and foremost we must immediately see to it that whatever human resources necessary are allocated to ensure that the citizens of RI in need of these vital services receive resolution within 48 hours,” said Chippendale. “In parallel there must be Legislative Oversight of the progress of the program implementation, as well as an Oversight investigation into whether or not the vendor should be held accountable for any and all problems with the system that resulted from their negligence - and that accountability includes all costs incurred by the state as a result of their flaws. This hearing cannot be a "one and done" event - this issue is inflicting tremendous pain on the neediest of our population while costing the state hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in cost overruns. The House Oversight and Senate Oversight Committees must monitor those two aspects of this problem on perhaps even a weekly basis until a resolution is reached.”

While the questions posed by the House Committee Chairs were sent to Health and Human Services Secretary Elizabeth Roberts, Department of Administration Director Michael DiBiase, and Department of Human Services Director Melba DePena — some, including the taxpayer advocacy group OSTPA — are demanding accountability from Governor Raimondo.

"The UHIP debacle will make 38 Studios look like pocket change.  How can the Governor be so cavalier in her response to a disastrous rollout of a $364 million system that has the potential for an additional $124 million in costs?  How could she possibly not know that the federal government wrote a letter to the state indicating that the system was ‘inadequate and unacceptable’?  And while the Governor said she ‘won’t let them wiggle out of delivering for us’, will there be an outside audit of Deloitte’s role in developing a system that didn’t deliver and a deep dive into why the cost of this already very expensive system warrants a request from the federal government of an additional $124 million?” said Pam Gencarella with OSTPA on Wednesday. 

What was originally a $135 million budget turned into $364 million last year. The state is now requesting an additional $124 million from the federal government.

Mike Stenhouse with the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, who has been a staunch critic of UHIP since its inception, said his own question about the program was “much different” than that of others. 

“My question is much different,” said Stenhouse. “Everyone else will ask about the problems and what we spent -- I want someone on record to promise us they will not use UHIP to promote and proactively expand the public service welfare rolls here in the state.”

State's Preliminary Response

Department of Administration Spokesperson Brenna McCabe responded to questions about the rollout — as well as what the state plans to do moving forward. 

“We have been very forthcoming about the challenges we’ve faced during the implementation period, including the $39.92 supplemental SSI payment that was delayed for approximately 29,000 people. We just announced that the State would be authorizing overtime to tackle the backlog at our DHS offices and extended hours to alleviate lobby wait times. We are taking every step we can to ensure we are identifying, prioritizing and resolving any issues that may emerge as quickly as possible,” said McCabe.

As for warnings from federal partner that the system was not ready, McCable offered the following. 
 
“The decision to launch in September was made at the appropriate level. This was a shared decision between EOHHS, DHS and DOA. We are been working closely with our federal partners, including FNS, for more than a year and had successfully tested the system. It’s a large, complex system, and we expected issues to arise.  No amount of testing could help us predict every single scenario or challenge that occurred or will occur in the future,” said McCabe. “We extended our project timeline by 60 days in response to recommendations from FNS and conducted a hybrid pilot, which tested thousands of cases. This action was prudent – had we not compromised on FNS’ suggestion to conduct a three-month live pilot, it would have increased the project’s risk and budget because software would have needed to be redesigned, coded and tested. A three-month live pilot would also have negatively impacted HealthSource RI’s open enrollment period. No amount of testing could help us predict every single scenario or challenge.”

 

Related Slideshow: RI Leaders’ Questions for October 20 Hearing on “Botched” UHIP Rollout

RI Leaders' Questions for October 20 Hearing on "Botched" UHIP Rollout

Prev Next

#5

From House Finance Chair, Representative Marvin Abney and House Oversight Chair, Representative Patricia Serpa

A description of what the key milestones were for testing including what the acceptable failure rate would have been.

Prev Next

#9

From House Finance Chair, Representative Marvin Abney and House Oversight Chair, Representative Patricia Serpa:

A detailed list of every type of error that Bridges has incurred that impacted a beneficiary or a provider. How many of each type has occurred?

Prev Next

#26

From RI GOP Chairman, Brandon Bell:

Did EOHSS conduct a risk-analysis of how the rollout might impact some of RI’s most vulnerable people?

Prev Next

#25

From RI GOP Chairman, Brandon Bell:

When were the Governor and Speaker aware of detailed federal reports that spelled out real-life problems for thousands of citizens dependent on public assistance?

Prev Next

#32

From House Finance Committee Member, Representative Patricia Morgan:

The state has received penalties and fines for poor performance in entitlement programs in the past — what jeopardy does this faulty roll-out subject our state’s taxpayers to?

Prev Next

#35

From House Finance Committee Member, Representative Patricia Morgan:

What training was given to make sure they knew how to perform the necessary task within the next system? Who was in charge of training the staff?

Prev Next

#1

From House Finance Chair, Representative Marvin Abney and House Oversight Chair, Representative Patricia Serpa:

All independent verification and validation reports (IV&V) for the project, especially any provided to the administration or DHS within the last year.

Prev Next

#2

From House Finance Chair, Representative Marvin Abney and House Oversight Chair, Representative Patricia Serpa:

Any correspondence from Deloitte that addresses the readiness — or lack of readiness — of the system to go live in July then in September.  This should include all discussions of the outstanding problems.

Prev Next

#3

From House Finance Chair, Representative Marvin Abney and House Oversight Chair, Representative Patricia Serpa:

Numbers that demonstrate by DHS field office, how many clients submitted applications, how many were initiated, how many were completed - prior to the switch to Bridges and then for the month it’s been operating. This data should be provided by day, week, and month for July, August, September, and October.

Prev Next

#4

From House Finance Chair, Representative Marvin Abney and House Oversight Chair, Representative Patricia Serpa:

Results of the UAT (User Acceptance Testing) testing for Bridges — I would like to know how many times they conducted testing and, at a minimum, the score cards if not the scenarios they used to test it.

Prev Next

#6

From House Finance Chair, Representative Marvin Abney and House Oversight Chair, Representative Patricia Serpa:

A list of the different programs incorporate (SNAP/TANT/etc) and their current error rate.

Prev Next

#7

From House Finance Chair, Representative Marvin Abney and House Oversight Chair, Representative Patricia Serpa:

A description of how Deloitte staffers are being used in field offices to support DHS staff as well as a description of how they are being paid (e.g. overtime).

Prev Next

#8

From House Finance Chair, Representative Marvin Abney and House Oversight Chair, Representative Patricia Serpa:

Precise numbers on how many existing clients didn’t receive any benefits, how many received some but now they were entitle to, and how many received incorrect payments.

Prev Next

#10

From House Finance Chair, Representative Marvin Abney and House Oversight Chair, Representative Patricia Serpa:

How many providers (day care centers, mental health centers, etc) did not receive payments when they were accustomed to receiving them after Bridges went live?

Prev Next

#11

From House Finance Chair, Representative Marvin Abney and House Oversight Chair, Representative Patricia Serpa:

Reports generated by HealthSource for the last 6 months on errors and problems and then the most current report that details the problems to see how HealthSource is being impacted by UHIP Phase 2, also called Bridges.

Prev Next

#12

From House Finance Chair, Representative Marvin Abney and House Oversight Chair, Representative Patricia Serpa:

A description of what the testing scenario the feds recommend, a description of the testing scenario used and an explanation as to why we varied from the one the feds recommended.

Prev Next

#13

From House Finance Chair, Representative Marvin Abney and House Oversight Chair, Representative Patricia Serpa:

Feasibility study regarding child support being integrated into UHIP.

Prev Next

#14

From House Finance Chair, Representative Marvin Abney and House Oversight Chair, Representative Patricia Serpa

The latest IAPD that was submitted by OHHS/DHS.

Prev Next

#15

From House Finance Chair, Representative Marvin Abney and House Oversight Chair, Representative Patricia Serpa:

Data from the dashboard that shows information regarding number of transactions completed, number pending some action, error rate, etc. in the system.

Prev Next

#16

From House Finance Chair, Representative Marvin Abney and House Oversight Chair, Representative Patricia Serpa:

The most current report used by Deloitte that lists the “glitches” that need to be addressed and fixed.

Prev Next

#17

From House Finance Chair, Representative Marvin Abney and House Oversight Chair, Representative Patricia Serpa

The average wait times for clients at each DHS office.

Prev Next

#18

From House Finance Chair, Representative Marvin Abney and House Oversight Chair, Representative Patricia Serpa

The average number of times clients have had to come in to DHS problems since October 1.

Prev Next

#19

From House Finance Chair, Representative Marvin Abney and House Oversight Chair, Representative Patricia Serpa:

The number of open tickets Deloitte has right now for Bridges. This should include software bugs as well as tickets with requests to fix data.

Prev Next

#20

From House Finance Chair, Representative Marvin Abney and House Oversight Chair, Representative Patricia Serpa:

How many Deloitte tickets have been issued since October 1 requiring Deloitte to address a specific data issue or application issue for a specific client? How many of these are outstanding right now?

Prev Next

#21

From RI GOP Chairman, Brandon Bell:

Who bears the responsibility for the UHIP budget sky-rocketing out of control?  The initial estimate set the UHIP cost at $135 million prior to the Chafee Administration adjusting the budget to $209 million, these projections are a long way from the report reported cost of $364 million.

Prev Next

#22

From RI GOP Chairman, Brandon Bell:

As the UHIP budget ballooned, what process was employed and who authorized change orders and contract revisions?

Prev Next

#23

From RI GOP Chairman, Brandon Bell:

What due diligence did the State undertake in awarding the UHIP contract to Deloitte — was there a competitive bidding process, and if not why?

Prev Next

#24

From RI GOP Chairman, Brandon Bell:

Why didn’t the Governor follow a prudent approach of directing EOHHS to conduct pilot tests and implement UHIP in appropriate phases? 

Prev Next

#27

From RI GOP Chairman, Brandon Bell:

What should the General Assembly do to more effectively conduct oversight so problems can be identified before they become financial snafus?

Prev Next

#28

From RI GOP Chairman, Brandon Bell:

What and when did the Governor know about budget overruns and the botched UHIP rollout, and what corrective action did she underage and who is she holding responsible?

Prev Next

#29

From RI GOP Chairman, Brandon Bell:

What value-added benefit will RI taxpayers receive from the $364 million investment in UHIP? 

Prev Next

#30

From House Finance Committee Member, Representative Patricia Morgan:

Who made the decision to launch the program over the objection of the NFS?

Prev Next

#31

From House Finance Committee Member, Representative Patricia Morgan:

It appears a full pilot wasn’t performed — what was the rationale, the evidence the program was ready?

Prev Next

#33

From House Finance Committee Member, Representative Patricia Morgan:

How many citizens have been negatively impacted by the flawed rollout — what costs have they incurred (leaving work and school, or having to pay out of pocket)?

Prev Next

#34

From House Finance Committee Member, Representative Patricia Morgan:

What costs have RI taxpayers incurred in overtime, extra personnel costs, etc?  Will they be picked up by Deloitte?

Prev Next

#36

From House Finance Committee Member, Representative Patricia Morgan:

Are there hardware as well as software issues?

 
 

Related Articles

 

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

 
Delivered Free Every
Day to Your Inbox
 
:!