Colorado’s New Benefits Management System Has Glitches
Published: September 23, 2019
ARAPAHOE, COUNTY OF (COLORADO)Children's Health Insurance ProgramCOLORADODENVER, CITY AND COUNTY OF (DENVER) (COLORADO)Government PerformanceHealth CareHealth ITHealth ServicesHUMAN SERVICES, DEPARTMENT OF (COLORADO)Information TechnologyJEFFERSON, COUNTY OF (COLORADO)Medicaid Management Information SystemsSocial ServicesSupplemental Nutrition Assistance ProgramTemporary Assistance for Needy Families
Following the August 27 launch of the Colorado Benefits Management System (CBMS), many Coloradans are unable to access important benefits like food stamps and medicine in a timely manner or at all.
Glitches in Colorado’s new benefits management system are restricting some residents from accessing vital benefits. County offices in the state are reporting backlogs and long lines as Colorado families attempt to collect nutrition assistance, medication, and even bus passes. Just one month after the launch of the new system, some Coloradans could be left without their benefits until it is fixed.
One Denver-area woman, Natasha Cordero, was unable to enroll her daughter in Medicaid so she could receive asthma medication, calling the situation “scary and frustrating.” Similarly, Lakewood resident Walter Sasse, who relies on the state for Medicaid, food assistance, and bus passes, has not received any of his benefits this month. In Jefferson County, human services officials are reporting that the system has been going on and off randomly since going live on August 27. The county usually strives to provide same-day service for EBT cards, but is unable to do so right now.
The human services department in Arapahoe County has faced similar issues. “It’s just been a headache on our end for our staff trying to jump through these hurdles to deliver services,” Yvette Yeon, spokeswoman for the department, said. “The people who are suffering are those families and individuals who come to us for public assistance.”
The system, officially known as the Colorado Benefits Management System (CBMS), is run through county human services offices and manages medical and food-assistance benefits for everyone in Colorado. In Colorado, more than 1.3 million people who receive Medicaid and roughly 450,000 people who receive food stamps rely on the integrity of CBMS.
The Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) spent the last two years developing the new CBMS for approximately $25 million. However, according to state Chief Technology Officer David McCurdy, this is just a “fraction” of the cost of what some states pay. The old system, which cost over $100 million to develop, erroneously denied benefits to some, while distributing tens of millions of dollars in payments to others who were not qualified.
Despite the new system’s glitches, the state is optimistic about its operations. In an email to StateScoop, OIT wrote that “the new system is successfully processing thousands of cases per day, and we are working around the clock to resolve any outstanding issues that are impacting counties and residents.” OIT also described the current issues as “some system slowness and errors that have impacted workload and the ability to process cases in varying degrees.”
Jefferson County official Lynnae Flora believes the new system will be better than the old one, once its issues are resolved. “We know it’s going to get better,” Flora said. “And having been through this in other iterations over the last two decades, this is actually not nearly as bad as other times.”