slightly from state to state, and therefore with minor modifications, the application could be used in other states as well as Arizona. Already the state of Indiana has adapted Health-e-Arizona to meet its requirements and is beginning to use the system in one county. Likewise, screens could easily be added on to the application to make it applicable for income screening for other public programs, such as food stamps.
A universal, user friendly, simple to use, financial screening tool accessible over the Internet is likely to be quite attractive to a number of states. As recently as November, 2001, the U.S. General Accounting Office used their Means-Tested Programs Report, which noted that, “About 80 means-tested federal programs assisted low-income people at a cost of nearly $400 billion in federal, state, and local funds in fiscal year 1998.” The report goes on to point out that currently the process for determining financial eligibility is cumbersome and can be simplified. Their recommendation was that Congress consider authorizing demonstration projects to simplify and coordinate eligibility determinations for means-tested programs.
Health-e-Arizona was designed with input from eligibility specialists at community health centers, agency staff from the two State Medicaid application processing agencies and Deloitte Consulting (designers of the original California system). It offers features that meet the specific needs of the various partners in the project:
Entry of application information into the Health-e-App application can be accomplished from virtually any PC with an internet connection and a web browser.
Supporting documentation is faxed using any standard fax machine to the fax server which will house the images of each document, including a bar coded document control number which matches a bar coded document control number assigned to the application itself.
Supporting documentation is housed with the application, thus eliminating the need for applicants to present permanent documents (i.e. birth certificates) again when re-applying for coverage. Only changes in information are brought in and submitted with the renewal request.
Once submitted, the application plus supporting documents is automatically distributed to multiple state workers, locations or agencies, depending on the preliminary eligibility screening business rules built into the Health-e-App application.
DES/AHCCCS workers can access, view and print applications and documents from virtually any PC with an internet connection and a web browser.
DES/AHCCCS can redistribute or reassign applications and documents to other workers, locations or agencies electronically without needing to copy and mail paper forms.
The system keeps track of the eligibility specialists workload, enabling a specialist to initiate an application and suspend it until all the information required is complete and ready to be submitted to the State.
As the system incorporates the State’s business rules for eligibility determination, the eligibility specialist can offer an immediate preliminary estimate of eligibility to the applicant.
As with any public/private partnership, there are numerous difficulties to be overcome. However, the obvious advantages for all players in the project were instrumental in bringing the parties together with a will to make the Health-e-Arizona project become a reality. It makes good business sense for all to make use of technology to move the application and determination process away from mail, photocopying and manual data entry, and toward a real time, Internet-based application. Some of the hurdles which the project faced are the following:
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