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Indiana Reveals Hybrid System Details

In a follow-up to GovWin's previous blog, Indiana's Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) has released details surrounding the new "hybrid system" that will determine eligibility for Medicaid, Food Stamps (SNAP), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF) programs, replacing the failed IBM system. Even in these times of increased automation, the plan's main focus will be face-to-face contact between clients and caseworkers/contract staff. Although this may seem to be backwards thinking in a climate of privatization, States may start to find that with increasing applications for benefits and higher rates of lost information, failed delivery of services, and fraud, social service systems may require a more personalized, hands-on application than other program areas.

FSSA plans to increase county office staff to serve in teams with contractors to deliver services to clients within their own county (as opposed to IBM's system with workers communicating to clients across the entire state). The hybrid system will be two-tiered, with one employee approving benefits and another processing the case, adding increased accountability. Clients will now be transferred to their local office for assistance rather than waiting for a response at a centralized call center. With IBM's system, FSSA contracted outreach and problem resolution through the vendor. With its more localized approach, FSSA will communicate directly on a regional basis with providers and advocates. Rather than contracting with one large entity, FSSA is in the process of establishing individual contracts with vendors, allowing FSSA more direct control and management of their contracts to improve responsiveness and accountability. As of today there is no time-line in place for the new system's implementation, but FSSA plans to roll out a pilot in the Vanderburgh Region in January 2010.

There are still questions to be addressed in regards to the new system, including the difficulties of operating three platforms at the same time: some counties will be on the hybrid system, some on the modernized system, and some remain on the legacy system. Another is funding. Governor Mitch Daniels has already called for emergency budget cuts as the state's revenue continues to fall short of projections. Indiana is negotiating lower contract rates with vendors, but FSSA confirmed that this does not include Affiliated Computer Services and other vendors involved with the hybrid system. FSSA believes the new system will save money over the old IBM system, and states that all the changes will be made within the agency's current budget.

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