For the first time, Tennesseans have a way to directly apply for Medicaid online. Over the weekend, TennCare Connect went live, allowing residents to fill out forms and upload documents at a new website or with a smartphone app.
TennCare Connect should expedite the process for most people. They can apply for coverage, as well as submit information for an annual process known as "redetermination" that makes sure someone still qualifies.
"With the mobile app, if we — for example — need to verify your income, you can take a picture of your paystub or your paycheck or your W-2, upload it to your profile, and it will be linked to your account," says TennCare spokesperson Sarah Tanksley.
That should eliminate the lag time between requests for documentation and having to either mail or fax them in. Patient advocates say the cumbersome, paper-based process has resulted in thousands of people losing coverage or never getting benefits they qualify for.
So far, the $400 million computer system is working as planned, according to TennCare officials. But it's coming online five years late.
The online portal was supposed to launch alongside the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, but a contractor hired to build the system failed to deliver and the work was abandoned.
*This post has been updated to reflect TennCare Connect works on major browsers.