Citizenship error latest UHIP complaint

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As the state of Rhode Island works to fix persistent issues with its new benefits eligibility system, new problems continue to pop up, leaving thousands of residents in limbo.

Since its launch in September, the $364-million United Health Infrastructure Project – or UHIP – has been plagued with problems, including two separate outages on Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Thursday, a Pawtucket woman told Target 12 her husband’s citizenship status was changed in the system, suddenly claiming he wasn’t a U.S. citizen.

The man, Stephen Rayhorn, has trouble leaving the house, so his wife, Michelle, went to the HealthSource RI office on his behalf to secure his medical coverage.

“All of a sudden, she said, ‘You may need to come back tomorrow because the system is showing he’s not a U.S. citizen,'” Rayhorn recalled. “I said, ‘I’m sorry?” and she said, ‘You need to show proof that he’s a U.S. citizen.'”

Rayhorn returned to the office with a stack of documents, including her husband’s birth certificate from Massachusetts, his Social Security card, and his passport.

The agency fixed the error, according to Rayhorn, but her husband still doesn’t have medical coverage. She said the pharmacy called Thursday morning because his prescription couldn’t be filled and the couple has also had to cancel doctor’s appointments.

“I’m doing all I can to help him and I feel like I’ve failed him because I just feel like all of these walls are coming up,” Rayhorn added. “All these people that are suffering from all this, it’s just wrong. It’s just really wrong.”

A spokesperson for the state said the Department of Health and Human Services is working as quickly as possible to resolve Rayhorn’s issue. She also said the agency is not aware of any widespread issues regarding citizenship status.

Meanwhile, Gov. Gina Raimondo said she plans to announce new steps to deal with the UHIP mess next week, including a possible personnel shakeup.

“January 1st wasn’t good, wasn’t what we needed it to be,” she said, referring to how the new system handled high demand at the start of a new month. “I decided that some more dramatic changes needed to be made, and over the next few days I’m going to be working with the team to try to figure out what those changes should be.”