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Foundation funds help Human Services reprogram eligibility system

September 20, 2004

BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota Department of Human Services is receiving financial support from the Dakota Medical Foundation to reprogram a computer system to handle applications for two children's health coverage programs. The foundation is donating $92,000 in order to attract over $350,000 federal dollars to finance a technology initiative that will simplify the way applications are handled for Medicaid and the Healthy Steps state children's health insurance program. Both programs serve low-income uninsured children.

Department of Human Services Executive Director Carol K. Olson said, “Policymakers have urged us to simplify access to child health coverage programs, and this unique public-private partnership has provided us with vital resources to more effectively link uninsured children with coverage.”

Explaining the foundation’s support, Dakota Medical Foundation President Pat Traynor said, “This grant enables North Dakota to leverage much needed federal funding for technology improvements that will increase access to healthcare, and that complements our mission. We have already partnered with human services to sustain the 1-877-KIDSNOW child health information and referral line, and we are pleased to continue working together to enhance the health of North Dakotans.”

The reprogramming project will be completed in the spring of 2005 at a total cost of over $400,000. The foundation funding is providing the required state matching funds.

North Dakota currently uses two computer systems to determine eligibility for Medicaid and the children’s health insurance program. County social service offices handle Medicaid applications using one system, and the department handles children’s health insurance program applications using another process. Applications are often faxed back and forth to determine which coverage program is most appropriate for a child.

When complete, the computer system will handle both applications. This will expedite the application review process and thus coverage. It will also generate automatic referrals to Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota’s Caring Program, if a child doesn’t qualify for state coverage programs, and will produce better data to analyze eligibility and enrollment trends.

The Dakota Medical Foundation’s mission is to increase health and access to healthcare services. The foundation has provided over $22 million in grants to numerous entities in the Fargo region since 1996.

Each month, the Department of Human Services provides Medicaid coverage to about 27,000 low-income North Dakotans under age 21. About 2,500 other low-income children are enrolled in the Healthy Steps state children’s health insurance program.

Contacts:

Heather Steffl, Public Information Officer, N.D. Department of Human Services, (701) 328-4933, or Pat Traynor, President, Dakota Medical Foundation, (701) 271-0263

 

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