PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A major software upgrade for Rhode Island’s troubled benefits eligibility system that has been delayed twice is scheduled for this weekend.
Brenna McCabe, a spokesperson for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, said the upgrade is planned for July 21.
UHIP – short for the Unified Health Infrastructure Project – is Rhode Island’s problem-plagued computer system that was supposed to streamline benefits programs like Medicaid, food stamps and child care assistance. 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. As Target 12 first reported, it was rescheduled for June 23 but delayed again because state officials said they were not satisfied with testing results.
In a recent report to the court, special master Deming Sherman described it as a complicated upgrade.
“After my most recent meeting with Deloitte, I have a reasonable expectation that the release will be properly tested and implemented on July 21,” Sherman wrote. “I also think that the upgrade should help to close the timeliness gap and, more significantly, assist DHS in maintaining the 96% standard once reached.”
“The upgrade affects all programs in the R. I. Bridges system and should positively affect the processing of applications for those programs as well,” he added.
The improvements are expected to include a “dashboard” for employees to quickly see which applications need to be processed.
A judge appointed Sherman to oversee the state’s SNAP program in the wake of a federal class action lawsuit brought by the ACLU, which accuses the state of illegal delays of food stamp benefits caused by the system.
According to state data, in June, the combined timeliness for SNAP applications was 91.5%. It’s the third consecutive month of timeliness over 90 percent, but it’s short Sherman’s goal of reaching compliance with federal SNAP regulations by the end of June.
Regulations require 96% timeliness for the issuance of SNAP benefits.