The Family and Social Services Administration released a few more details on their plan to pilot a new version of the state’s system for public assistance eligibility determination. Under what is being called a “hybrid” process by the administration, private contractors will continue to work with clients, but without IBM’s overhead management. The big difference, many hope, will be the return of face-to-face assistance as case workers move back into local offices.
The pilot region will include 10 counties in southwestern Indiana. According to the 12/14/09 FSSA press release:
After considering many different regions, the Vanderburgh Region will be the first to roll-out sometime in January (the exact date will be released in a subsequent announcement). The Vanderburgh region contains Daviess, Dubois, Gibson, Knox, Perry, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Vanderburgh, and Warrick counties.
All other counties will remain under the system they currently have. Clients should operate as usual until FSSA announces any changes coming to their county.
A lot of skepticism remains for lawmakers and social services advocates. At a Monday House Ways & Means Committee hearing on HB 1003, the committee heard about the human impact of the modernization’s poor performance. From the AP coverage:
Nanceen Alexander, a 52-year-old Evansville resident, told the panel her husband, Ronald, died of heart ailments in October more than a year after he was denied Medicaid benefits.
Alexander said her husband was denied assistance after repeatedly mailing in requested information and spent hours in frustrating conversations with people at a state call centers.
“It’s not right. Take a walk in his shoes and see what he went through and what I went through, watching him die in hospice,” she said, holding up her late husband’s photo. “He did his part and now it’s time for the system to do its part.”
More local coverage:
- Evansville Courier & Press: New ‘hybrid’ welfare plan threatened
- Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette: “Hybrid” welfare revamp draws fire
- Indy Star: House bill would end privatization of welfare
- Bloomington Herald-Times: Welfare system overhaul met with mixed local reactions (subscription required)
Expect more coverage after today’s State Budget Committee hearing where FSSA is again on the agenda.