Target 12

Major UHIP software upgrade delayed

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - A major software upgrade for the problem-plagued UHIP computer system is being delayed, Target 12 has learned.

The upgrade was scheduled for Saturday. But Ashley O'Shea, a spokesperson for the R.I. Executive Office of Health and Human Services, confirmed the upgrade has been pushed back to June to "ensure a quality upgrade."

UHIP - short for Unified Health Infrastructure Project - is Rhode Island's nearly half-billion-dollar new system to provide social services. Officials have struggled to fix issues with UHIP since it went live in September 2016.

As Target 12 reported last month, UHIP special master Deming Sherman said he expected the May 19 upgrade and other fixes "will go a long way toward reducing, and hopefully eliminating, the compliance gap."

Sherman was appointed 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.

Sherman has set a goal of having the state in compliance with federal SNAP regulations by the end of June.

On Thursday, Sherman told Target 12 that compliance goal remains the same, despite the delay in the system upgrade.

"I still think that goal can be achieved," he said.

UHIP, built by contractor Deloitte, was supposed to streamline benefits like Medicaid, food stamps and child care assistance for hundreds of thousands of Rhode Islanders.

But almost immediately after UHIP launched, users reported missing benefits, hours-long call wait times to the R.I. Department of Human Services, and long lines at DHS field offices.

Last month, Deloitte officials apologized to Rhode Islanders for the errors, and promised to deliver a functional system. Gov. Gina Raimondo halted payment to Deloitte for its work on UHIP more than a year ago.

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.

Ted Nesi contributed to this report.


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