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DHHS: Human error behind Medicaid card mishap

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is trying to clean up the mess created when nearly 50,000 Medicaid cards with children’s personal health information was sent out to the wrong households.

The agency admitted that the mistaken mailings violated federal  medical privacy laws and were a result of human error.

HHS Secretary Aldona Wos informed the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services about the release of private medical information.

Following press inquiries, the agency acknowledged  Friday evening the mailings went out to the wrong household, three days after DHHS staff first learned of the issues.

On Monday, Medicaid Interim Director Sandra Terrell released a statement indicating that after an initial review, the state agency believes human error was at fault while moving data from the N.C. Health Choice system to Medicaid.  

Terrell said that that those who received the cards ( which had children’s names, Medicaid identification numbers, dates of birth and primary care doctor’s names and office addresses on them) should destroy the cards. The new cards will be issued in coming weeks.

On Monday, McCrory told reporters assembled at an economic forum that the mistake stemmed from new requirements under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and problems McCrory said he inherited from his predecessor Bev Perdue.

“It’s a brand new thing that we had to do to implement the ‘Obamacare’ regulations. We’re going to fix it as quick as possible,” he said. “Give us a chance to examine exactly what happened and why it happened instead of jumping to conclusions regarding fault and responsibility.”

The DHHS press releases also said a personnel investigation is being conducted into the incident.

From Terrrel’s statement:

After a review of the incident, it has been determined that some Medicaid cards were incorrectly sent because of human error in computer programming and the quality assurance process in printing the new Medicaid identification cards.  These new cards were printed for children switched from NC Health Choice to Medicaid because of new eligibility rules and requirements under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  A program was developed to extract the information from the eligibility database to generate the mailing, but utilized the incorrect name and address for the parent or responsible adult.

The incorrect card shows the child’s name, Medicaid identification number, date of birth and primary care physician’s name and physician’s address. No Social Security numbers were released.

The parent or responsible adult who received an incorrect card is being advised to immediately destroy it by shredding or cutting it into small pieces. They are also being advised that they can turn in the card to their county department of social services if they prefer. A directory of the county social services offices can be found here: http://www.ncdhhs.gov/dss/local/.

 

Did you get when of the incorrect cards in the mail? Was your family affected? Reporter Sarah Ovaska would like to speak with you. Call her at (919) 861-1463 or email at sarah@ncpolicywatch.com.

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