IT Hiccups of the Week: Expect Problems with New Medicaid System New Hampshire Warns

Last week was a relatively quiet week on the IT-related snag, snarl and uff da front. But it seems no one can roll out a new Medicaid system without IT problems, as many of New Hampshire's 10 000 Medicaid providers are likely to unhappily learn, beginning today.

New Hampshire Government Officials Say Expect Problems Today With Its New Medicaid System

At least no one can say they weren’t warned.

“No one is under the illusion that we won't have problems… It's not going to be perfect. We know that there are a number of issues we have with this. We want to make sure we have a full understanding of what those issues are.”

Those presentiments come courtesy of New Hampshire’s Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas, quoted in the New Hampshire Union Leader last week when he told the state’s Executive Council and the Union Leader on what to expect when the state's long-delayed new US $90 million Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS) goes live today, 1 April.

The new MMIS system contract was originally let in December 2005 to Affiliated Computer Services (which was acquired by Xerox in 2010). The total contract cost, New Hampshire Watchdog.org states, was for $60 million: “$26 million for the design phase, and $34 million for the full five-year operational phase.” The design phase was supposed to be complete by the end of 2007, and operations were scheduled to begin on 1 January 2008.

The Union Leader reports that the MMIS design “has been modified at least five times, with the Executive Council repeatedly voting to extend the contract after Xerox missed eight deadlines over the six-year period.” According to the paper, the reason for the design changes and delays were caused by both state and federal additional system requirements, as well as contractor implementation problems.

New Hampshire has been paying EDS (now owned by HP), the until-today current MMIS system developer and operator—and losing bidder to ACS—some $8 million a year to keep the legacy system operational.

Toumpas told the Executive Council to expect angry phone calls from many of the state's 10 000 Medicaid providers saying that they were having problems with the new MMIS since there were known defects that haven’t been corrected yet. He also said there may be “calls from people about a defect we haven't anticipated yet,” as well. Toumpas said that Xerox had beefed up its response team in anticipation of the expected complaints.

I’ll let you know next week whether the anticipated errors were minor or major. If the recent experiences of other states like Florida, Idaho and Ohio are any indication, the latter is more likely than the former.

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Manages Second Major Error in Month

RBS Group, which includes the Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest and Ulster Bank, has managed to royally tick-off many of its customers yet again. As you may recall, a few weeks ago a hardware fault disrupted access to all of its 17.5 million customer accounts for several hours, leaving many of them unable to pay for their restaurant, store, and other purchases. That error was of course nothing compared to last summer’s RBS fiasco, which its customers are still seething about.

This time, an undisclosed IT system error caused the group's mobile banking applications to stop working from 0630 to after noon London time last Thursday. According to the Guardian, we're talking about at least 13 million log-ins per week by over 2 million active users.

The bank later said, “We apologize again for the inconvenience caused to our customers.” In the interests of accuracy, RBS should probably adopt the apology as its corporate slogan, since it seems more accurate than the official one (“Make it happen").

USS Guardian Finally Removed from Ecologically Sensitive Philippine Reef

As you may remember, back in January, the U.S. Navy minesweeper USS Guardian ran hard aground on a reef within the protected Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in Philippine waters. The Navy had once hoped to free the ship without causing too much damage to the reef or the hull, but once the Guardian started taking on water, a decision was made to dismantle it in place.

The Guardian ended up on the reef because it was following a National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency-supplied Coastal Digital Nautical Chart (DNC) that “misplaced the location of a reef by about eight nautical miles.”

According to CBS News, the last major section of the Guardian was lifted off the reef over the weekend, and all remaining debris is now being removed.  The U.S. will likely be fined over $2 million for the damage to the reef. The Navy paid $24.9 million to a salvage company to remove the Guardian; there will be an estimated additional $277 million in cost if the Navy eventually replaces it. How much the Navy is itself spending on the salvage operation is unknown, as is the final cost to U.S.–Philippine relations.

Other Hiccups of Interest:

Westpac Bank Upgrade Finally Fixed

Wells Fargo Bank Experiences Debit Card Problems

Myki Ticketing System Shortchanging Passengers

NASA Rover Back To Full Operations

Photo: Radius/Getty Images

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