DHHS sent nearly 50,000 children's medical cards to incorrect addresses

lbonner@newsobserver.comJanuary 3, 2014 

The state heath agency acknowledged Friday that it sent nearly 50,000 children’s Medicaid cards, which include their names and birth dates, to incorrect addresses.

A spokesman for the state Department of Health and Human Services said it knows who received the wrong cards and will send new cards to the correct addresses as well as monitor for any fraudulant use.

“We are doing a thorough and full review of this incident and how it happened,” said DHHS spokesman Ricky Diaz. “We regret it’s occurred and we are working to correct it as soon as possible.”

Diaz did not provide details of the fraud monitoring plan.

NC Tracks and NC FAST, the troubled DHHS computer systems that pay Medicaid claims and process public benefits applications, were not at fault, Diaz said.

Children who need medical care before their families receive the correct cards can use their old ones, he said.

Medicaid is a government insurance program that enrolls about 1.7 million residents, many of them low-income children. The mistake involved those who were enrolled in the government-subsidized insurance program for children called Health Choice.

A policy change required 70,253 children to switch from Health Choice to Medicaid beginning Jan. 1. It was new Medicaid cards sent to 48,752 former Health Choice enrollees that went to the wrong addresses.

Catherine Piatak, who lives in Wake County, was worried Tuesday when she received in the mail a Medicaid card for a child in Duplin County. She didn’t like that she knew the child’s name, birth date and doctor. And she didn’t like the idea that someone got the same information on her children.

She became frustrated when she called DHHS and received no information on the mistake or a workable solution for correcting it.

“They’re not even being respectful of our privacy,” she said. “They should have guarded this information more closely.”

People who received incorrect cards will get information on how to dispose of them, Diaz said.

People with questions may call the DHHS Customer Service center at 1-800-662-7030.

Bonner: 919-829-4821; Twitter: @Lynn_Bonner

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