Early during her press conference, Governor Gina Raimondo apologized to the people who have been hurt by the failure of UHIP to properly delivered necessary and needed services and to the employees at the Department of Human Services (DHS) who have endured months of unimaginable stress and demoralizing work conditions as a result of what Raimondo called a “bad decision.”
Raimondo also released a report from Acting DHS Director Eric Beane, that details the challenges and missteps surrounding the launch of UHIP, Rhode Island’s new health and human services eligibility software system. The contractor for this project, Deloitte, delivered Rhode Island a broken system, said Raimondo, and as a result, the Department of Human Services, HealthSource RI, and publicly funded healthcare programs are not functioning effectively.
“The challenges we’ve faced with UHIP have caused real, meaningful, and unacceptable hardship for many Rhode Islanders. If I had known in September what I know now, I would have never let this project go forward,” said Raimondo. “What’s clear now is that our vendor and our agencies needed more time, more people, and more training before we turned this system on. I’m holding Deloitte accountable for failing to deliver and have taken steps to fix the system as quickly as possible. The problems with the system are not intractable, and there is a path forward. Still, the system won’t be fixed overnight, and we will continue to make steady, meaningful progress over the next 12 to 18 months.”
The report includes an action plan to improve customer service and fix the system. The action plan includes key metrics to measure and monitor success for the short, medium, and long terms.
- Short Term (within three months): The State will commit the staff and focus to stop the growing number of pending applications. Additionally, Deloitte will be held accountable to execute an aggressive IT turnaround to immediately improve functionality of the child care, long-term care, and worker portals.
- Medium Term (within six months): The State will hold Deloitte accountable to improve the customer experience and increase use of self-service enrollment for SNAP. Additionally, Deloitte must correct most of the remaining data conversion issues, which have caused hardship for customers and frustration for workers.
- Long Term (within 12 months): Deloitte and the State will reduce the number of pending applications to a steady-state level. Additionally, Deloitte must ensure that all data conversion issues have been resolved and significantly reduce late and inaccurate payments.
Raimondo said that the state will continue to withhold payment from Deloitte, demand a new contract with Deloitte that will tie all payments to performance-based deliverables and demand that Deloitte cover unanticipated costs to the State for additional personnel and other expenses incurred because of system errors.
“I’m hopeful we can reach an agreement with Deloitte without litigation, but I am prepared and willing to protect Rhode Island taxpayers in court if our vendor doesn’t step up and account for their mistakes,” said Raimondo.
The report supports Governor Raimondo’s previous statements that it was a mistake to go forward with personnel restructuring and staff layoffs at DHS. As a result, DHS will recall some staff members who were laid off prior to go-live and hire additional, temporary staff to improve customer service and reduce the application backlog.
Governor Raimondo will put a new leadership team in place at EOHHS (Executive Office of Health and Human Services). On Tuesday, EOHHS Secretary Elizabeth Roberts submitted a letter of resignation, and the Governor has appointed Anya Rader Wallack as Acting Secretary of EOHHS while a search is conducted for a permanent head of the agency.