Beneficiaries again challenge slow Medicaid application process

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Connecticut has failed to process Medicaid applications in an agreed-upon time frame, including for long-term care beneficiaries, and a court should hold it in contempt, a new filing alleges. But the state disagrees, and refers to its continuing efforts to meet court-ordered benchmarks.

In 2012, beneficiaries and the New Haven Legal Assistance Association filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Social Services because it said it had failed to hire enough workers to process Medicaid applications quickly enough. The lawsuit was settled in 2014 and the courts extended the state's deadline to achieve full compliance by January 2018.

But the state is still behind, so the association filed another motion in May asking for a contempt hearing.

The plaintiffs say a 90% rate was agreed upon in the settlement; applications, however, are currently processed at an 84.9% rate, the Connecticut Mirror reported last week. The motion also said that long-term care applications are being processed at a rate of 84%, instead of the 92% required in the settlement.

The state responded in a June 11 filing that, while it failed to meet certain benchmarks, the agency had made improvements and should not be held in contempt. It noted it had hired 109 eligibility workers between last October and June.

In response, the association's lawyer filed a response on June 25 that said the department's steps “apparently have been directed just to stopping the noncompliance from getting worse, not to addressing it.”

The state responded Monday by again saying the court should deny the contempt request, noting “DSS is being reasonably diligent in its attempt to comply with the Modified Settlement Agreement.” In particular it noted that it had processed 95.35% of Medicaid long-term care applications in February. The state had no additional comment, a spokesman said Monday.