UHIP defects include immigration status checks, unavailable benefits

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – There are still more than 1,200 different defects plaguing the state’s Deloitte-built UHIP computer system, six months after it launched.

Target 12 requested descriptions of some of the more serious defects currently affecting the troubled new system for benefits. In response, the state provided a list of 55 so-called “blocking” issues.

The official descriptions of those defects include:

  • “Unable to verify immigration status for some applicants”
  • “Unable to authorize benefits due to technical issue”
  • “Data mismatch preventing submission of some Medicaid applications”
  • “Annual $20.01 Heat & Eat benefit not accessible for some clients”
  • “Multiple authorizations of some SNAP for same pay period”

When pressed on the defect related to immigration status, Sophie O’Connell, a spokesperson for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, told Target 12 the issue was identified during a routine IT analysis.

“At this time, we are not aware of any cases that have been impacted by this issue, but the IT team continues to work toward fully diagnosing and resolving it,” O’Connell told Target 12 in an email.

Eric Beane, acting director of Rhode Island’s Department of Human Services, has acknowledged UHIP continues to have challenges.

“The system still isn’t stable,” he said Friday.

“We want to see meaningful progress that’s actually measurable, where cases are processed quicker, where the backlog numbers are lower, where more people are actually able to submit an application online without running into blocking issues with the system,” Beane told Target 12.

“We often have tense conversations [with Deloitte] but I will acknowledge that they have deployed more staff, and they’re working very hard,” he said. “But we’re not satisfied yet. There’s a lot more work to do.”

The state classifies defects with a “P” designation. P1 is for the most severe type of defect, followed by P2, P3, and P4. According to the state, all th existing defects are small enough to be classified in the bottom two categories, P3 and P4.

Since its launch in September, the $364-million computer system has been riddled with defects that have affected health care and benefits, including SNAP benefits for food, for tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders.

In February, Gov. Gina Raimondo apologized for UHIP’s problems and acknowledged the state should not have launched it in September. Last week Beane said the state has made progress reducing the backlog that has developed.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.