RI DHS: UHIP backlog has dropped below 6,000

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The backlog of pending applications in Rhode Island’s troubled benefits eligibility system has dropped below 6,000, according to data from the R.I. Department of Human Services.

As of July 3, there were 5,781 pending applications in the Unified Health Infrastructure Project (UHIP) system for a wide range of benefits, including SNAP benefits for food and child care assistance. By comparison, there were 8,109 pending applications on June 12.

Of the remaining pending applications, DHS data shows 1,372 require some type of action from the client.

In a statement, DHS Director Courtney Hawkins said, “While the reduction of the backlog is an important indicator of our progress, the DHS team is developing additional metrics to help us understand how we are impacting the customer experience. We need to ensure that a commitment to high quality customer experience is at the center of our work and remains a central guiding principle to everything we do.”

HealthSource RI Director Zachary Sherman added, “Our team is working hard every day to better serve Rhode Island families. We have made multiple workforce and system improvements which have allowed us to significantly cut down the backlogs week over week. We know there is still work to be done and we are determined to continue making progress toward a more streamlined delivery of services.”

To date, DHS said it has hired 136 new employees to address customer issues. In a letter to the House Oversight and Finance Committees, the agency said it plans to fill seven additional positions by the end of July.

UHIP’s defects have affected medical coverage and benefits for tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders since its launch last September. Gov. Gina Raimondo eventually apologized for the launch.

Deloitte, the vendor that built the system, has refunded some of the state’s spending on the $364-million project.

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.