PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Islanders have the ability to apply for general public assistance to help cover burial expenses if they cannot afford a funeral.
These cases, handled by the Department of Health and Services, are now processed through UHIP, the state’s new integrated computer system.
Lucie Burdick, president of one of the unions that represents DHS employees, stated to Eyewitness News that glitches in the system were causing these burials to be put on hold.
Burdick said that one worker, close to tears, said “there are 50 burials that are sitting in a pile that I can’t get to. The system doesn’t work.”
When Target 12 asked state officials, they said that all of the cases were pending.
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Further investigation by Target 12 revealed that there were some funeral homes that had not been paid by the state yet.
DHS Director Melba Depena explained that at first, the system did not have the option to pay local funeral homes that work with the state for these services. She also said that Deloitte, the company that built UHIP, has since fixed this issue and any delayed payments should be processed by early next week.
“We work closely with the family. They bury their family members and then we reimburse the funeral home,” said Depena.