Tennessee's Medicaid program is poised to go live with its biggest computer system upgrade to date, one that was supposed to be ready in October 2013.
When it starts up this spring, it'll make the process to apply for TennCare mostly automated for the first time.
The lack of an electronic eligibility system in Tennessee has made the process unnecessarily cumbersome and even resulted in lawsuits. One resulted in an injunction in 2014 that TennCare was only recently released from.
Assuming the nearly $400 million system works, it should make both applying and reverifying qualifications each year easier. TennCare enrollment, which stands at 1.3 million, mostly women and children, has swung by 100,000 people in recent years, because of backlogs making sure everyone still qualifies. Director Gabe Roberts says that should begin to even out.
"I believe we'll see more stability over time because there are parts of the reverification process now that are pretty much all manual will be more automated," Roberts says.
One upgrade is a smartphone app that would allow people to photograph their paystub or proof of residence and just upload it rather than submitting by mail.
TennCare was supposed to have this system, which will be known as TennCare Connect, ready to go when the Affordable Care Act marketplace launched. But the original contractor couldn't deliver and the state scrapped the work in 2015.