Md. puts Medicaid enrollment online

Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

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Maryland is allowing new health care providers to self-enroll in the state's Medicaid program via a secure, Web-based system launched in early April.

The previous enrollment process — which was manually driven and paper-based — took an average of about two weeks, according to Al Shugart, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's systems and operations director.

The new system likely will speed up the process considerably, reducing data errors because providers input their data themselves directly and freeing up departmental staff time to deal with more complicated issues, Shugart said.

But the main focus for implementing the eMedicaid system is on improving customer service, he said, adding, "There's an implied cost-savings in the efficiency itself."

Additionally, the around-the-clock system will enable local health departments to enroll personal care aides — providers who go to a patient's home, sometimes on a moment's notice — so there's no delay in processing claims.

Another application will allow providers to view their remittance advice, or billing claims, on the Web to determine which claims have been approved, denied or are pending. They can also view their account summaries for the previous six months.

Annapolis, Md.-based USinternetworking Inc. is managing and hosting the applications, Shugart said, because that is not the department's core competency. The applications are tied into the health department's mainframe database.

The one-year contract is worth $612,000, with a one-year renewal option.

Shugart said it's taken about a year to develop these applications, but planning actually started even a couple of years before that when Accenture was helping the Maryland department develop a blueprint for e-government services.

A future initiative may allow Medicaid beneficiaries to apply online, he said, but the department must first conduct planning and coordination with another state agency.

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