Many Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies see great value in sharing data between states to prevent fraudsters from collecting benefits, but some mistakenly believe legislation prevents them from doing so. That is one of several key findings from a recent survey of HHS officials by the Governing Institute, sponsored by LexisNexis® Risk Solutions.
The Governing Institute interviewed HHS leaders across 41 states and the District of Columbia on the challenges and benefits of sharing information about public assistance program participants with other states. It focused on identifying dual participants in multiple states across HHS programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) and Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
The research study found that while more than half of agencies (68 percent) have methods for identifying dual participants, more than 89 percent believed that having an automated technology system to identify these individuals prior to issuing benefits would be very valuable. For many, ferreting out dual participants is a tedious, manual process that lacks the identity resolution necessary to successfully identify these individuals up front.
What was even more revealing was that more than 75 percent of agencies would willingly share their data with other states to help identify dual participants given the proper administrative, physical, and technical security safeguards. The research revealed that the biggest benefits of having such a system would be in combating fraud and ensuring benefits go to the people who deserve them. Yet when probed on why they don’t, many said that regulatory barriers prevent them from sharing information with other departments or states. Read more about this topic in a Legislative Issue Brief Governing Institute.
Some states are already moving in multi-state exchange direction, the research revealed. More than one-third (40 percent) of interviewees are currently part of some sort of multi-state consortium and reaping measurable benefits. The NAC is a perfect example, and offers a best practice model for multi-state data sharing to protect the integrity of HHS public assistance programs.
Other key findings from the research revealed that more than half of agencies interviewed are enjoying some degree of data sharing and its benefits at the state level by being part of an IES. Also, a little more than half (51 percent) of state agencies have a “no wrong door” policy in place, ensuring that citizens get streamlined access and information to all the benefits programs for which they qualify.