New DHHR eligibility system could cost $477M

By ERIC EYRE

Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — DHHR officials want to buy a new computing system that tracks people’s eligibility in agency programs, such as Medicaid, and the services they receive. It would replace three outdated systems, according to agency officials.

On Monday, state officials opened bids on the contract.

Optum, the low bidder, offered to provide the new Integrated Eligibility System to DHHR for $477 million, while competitor Deloitte bid $848 million. No other companies bid on the complex project.

DHHR is expected to evaluate the bids and select a vendor within weeks. The agency said it needs the new system to improve “compliance, efficiency and reporting issues” with DHHR programs and services.

DHHR spokeswoman Allison Adler said the federal government would pick up 90 percent of the cost of the new eligibility system under an agreement with federal agencies.

 “DHHR has worked with various federal agencies since 2015 regarding West Virginia’s eligibility to receive the federal match,” Adler said.

Optum, a health services company, now provides a DHHR-program eligibility system called the Recipient Automated and Information Data System (RAPIDS).

In West Virginia, Optum operates MedExpress urgent care centers.

The DHHR solicited bids for the eligibility system last year. At the time, Karen Bowling was DHHR secretary. Gov. Jim Justice appointed Bill Crouch to replace Bowling earlier this month.

The state faces a multimillion-dollar budget deficit. The budget deficit for the 2017-18 fiscal year, which begins July 1, will be about $500 million, officials with former governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s administration said shortly before Tomblin left office this month.

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