Benefind On The Mend, Bevin Reports
Gov. Matt Bevin and the state's top health officials say they're working to correct problems that led to a rocky rollout of the state's new benefit system dubbed Benefind.
Thousands of Kentuckian beneficiaries received false notices warning their benefits would be cut off thanks to errors in the Benefind system, but health officials promised Thursday that multiple fixes are in the works.
Commissioner for the Department for Community Based Services Adria Johnson painted a picture of the strain faced by staff in recent weeks: "Local offices across the state are struggling as our lobbies have been full and our call centers have been inundated with phone calls. In some cases, dealing with erroneous letters generated by the system has accounted for more than 50 percent of the workload for some staff members. We deeply regret the confusion this has caused."
Johnson assured nervous Medicaid and food stamp recipients the automatic letters have stopped, a new team is inspecting outgoing notices, and trainers will be dispatched to the department's offices in all 120 counties to aid staff in navigating the fledgling system.
After acknowledging Benefind's rough debut Bevin pushed back against critics, saying the problems plaguing the system were not related to any changes made under his administration. Benefind, he noted, was created under former Gov. Steve Beshear and meant to work in tandem with kynect, the state's health insurance exchange.
"Despite what you've been told, it was absolutely intended to be a vehicle through which people signed up for every single benefit they might need... so that there would be no wrong door for entry," the governor responded.
That runs counter to statements by former Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes, who maintains Benefind was not engineered with Medicaid application in mind.
Despite pre-rollout testing, current health officials say some of Benefind's flaws did not surface until after the Feb. 29 launch.