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When updates no longer cut it: The Sunshine State replaces outdated IT infrastructure

Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) is in the midst of a procurement to replace its Florida Online Recipient Integrated Data Access system (FLORIDA), a 20-year-old legacy mainframe that provides core functionality for DCF’s public assistance eligibility system, the Automated Community Connection to Economic Self Sufficiency (ACCESS) Florida system.

With multiple upgrades performed in the past to improve the functionality of FLORIDA, DCF determined that the existing mainframe architecture was no longer adequate to serve the needs of the overall ACCESS Florida system and that a replacement was the most viable option. The new FLORIDA system will be based on Medicaid Information Technology Architecture (MITA) 2.0 standards and will meet federal standards for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Enhanced Funding Requirements: Seven Conditions and Standards, as well as enable system access through mobile technologies for both internal and external users. Meeting CMS’ Seven Conditions and Standards is required for Florida’s human services programs to piggyback on limited-time enhanced 90/10 federal funding for updating state IT systems, available until December 31, 2015 through the A-87 Cost Allocation Waiver. 

The replacement solution will first focus on overhauling eligibility determination for medical assistance programs, based on the October 2013 deadline set by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), with plans to phase in eligibility for cash and food assistance programs to include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program. At an estimated cost of $250 million, the state anticipates the replacement system will save $340 million over the first five years of implementation, and $170 million in the years thereafter. 
Florida is one of many states taking advantage of the A-87 Cost Allocation Waiver to work toward implementation of integrated eligibility systems (IES) for health and human services benefit programs. With the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold ACA, states are forging on with implementation of health insurance exchanges (HIXs) that play directly into IES. Perhaps never was there a better time for vendors to jump on the opportunity to work with states on planning for an HIX and IES, particularly with those states that were waiting out the court’s decision to proceed with HIX implementation and now must hustle to meet the January 2014 deadline.
Deltek recently released an Analyst Recap examining HIX implementation progress levels, and a report on statewide integrated eligibility systems. Both pieces provide invaluable insight on upcoming contracting opportunities and an analysis of systems architecture, requirements, and estimated costs.

 

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