State hires temp workers as Medicaid backlog passes 65,000


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State hires temp workers as Medicaid backlog passes 65,000

By Michael Lopardi. CREATED Apr 9, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The state of Nevada is taking action to tackle a massive backlog in Medicaid applications that has now topped 65,000.

Mike Willden, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, told lawmakers on Wednesday that 46 temporary workers should be in place by next week and the agency would ask to speed up the hiring of an additional 160 permanent positions by May instead of August.

"It's job one to get the backlog caught up," Willden told Action News after a meeting of the legislative committee on health care in Las Vegas.

The number of pending Medicaid applications grew by roughly 9,800 in March alone, according to numbers from the state, likely because of the health coverage mandate in the Affordable Care Act. As of March 31, 65,888 applications needed processing.

The Division of Welfare and Supportive Services handles the documents. Willden said the agency has already hired an additional 250 staff members who are working some nights and weekends. State workers are processing up to 1,200 applications a day but applicants are still waiting an average of 60 days for a response.

Donna Manning, 62, of Henderson is on oxygen and has trouble breathing. Manning said she submitted her Medicaid application through Nevada Health Link in January but still hasn't received coverage. Frustrated, she emailed Action News.

"The last time I called he said just keep checking your mail every day," Manning said.

Manning said the waiting game is now impacting her health.

"It's been very stressful because I can't go to the doctor's," Manning said.

Action News is working to put Manning in touch with the state to get her problem fixed.

Willden said he hopes to reduce the backlog to 20,000 applications by June.