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State officials ‘encouraged’ by UHIP upgrade

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DHS Department of Human Services Rhode Island_358743

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island’s troubled computer system known as UHIP underwent a major software upgrade over the weekend, Eyewitness News has learned.

Courtney Hawkins, the director of the R.I. Department of Human Services, said the upgrade will improve service for the Rhode Islanders who depend on benefits programs like Medicaid, food stamps and child care assistance.

“We are encouraged by what we’re seeing and we will continue to closely monitor progress,” Hawkins said. “Our staff have participated in training and are being supported as they use the system this week.”

UHIP – short for the Unified Health Infrastructure Project – is Rhode Island’s problem-plagued computer system that was supposed to streamline benefits programs. State officials have been struggling to fix it since it launched in September 2016.

The software upgrade was originally scheduled for May 19 but was delayed for additional testing. It was rescheduled for June 23 but delayed again because state officials said they were not satisfied with testing results.

“Change is always difficult, no matter how well prepared you are, so we are also mindful that it will take some time for staff to adjust,” Hawkins added. “We expect the data for this month to reflect that adjustment period. Ultimately, we believe this upgrade will help our staff improve our services to customers.”

According to state data, in June, the combined timeliness for the issuance of SNAP benefits was 91.5%. It’s the third consecutive month of timeliness over 90%, but still short of reaching compliance with federal SNAP regulations, which require 96% timeliness.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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