LTSS health and human services workgroup answers questions on program enrollment complexity

The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and the Utah Department of Human Services (DHS) held a virtual Q&A on Tuesday to discuss the progress of the departments’ merger and its effect on long-term services and support (LTSS). The virtual meeting discussed the LTSS workgroup’s aim to reduce complexity to service enrollment by creating a single entry point system.

 

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During the webinar, Tonya Hales, assistant division director of Medicaid and health financing at UDOH and co-chair of the LTSS workgroup, highlighted the difficulties patients face when trying to access LTSS programs across the two departments. For example, Hales said a 60-year-old who lost their mobility due to stroke could be eligible for up to four different home and community-based Medicaid programs. In this example, this individual might have to work with three different divisions within UDOH and two with DHS. 

Hales said these extra steps make it hard for people to access care due to the convoluted nature of the multiple entry points to enroll in LTSS care. The workgroup is brainstorming ways to house programs under a single organization and consolidate LTSS community-based Medicaid programs into one. 

When asked in a poll, the audience of different health care officials in Utah thought Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) waivers should be grouped together to improve access and simplicity for those who might be eligible for any of these many waivers. Hales said:

“We realize that we have a lot of work to do before July of 2022 and not all of the things that are being proposed will be able to be accomplished by that date. But we are trying to think about this in terms of long-term and short-term gains that we can accomplish.”

Angie Pinna, director at the State of Utah Division of Services for People with Disabilities and co-chair of the LTSS workgroup, highlighted the workgroup’s effort to brainstorm a single point of entry to services to make enrollment and access to information simpler. She asked the audience which tool is most effective in their experience for consumers to access information. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said a centralized phone line was best, while thirty percent said a website was best. 

Hales said the workgroup is currently discussing ways to create a single entry point system which doesn’t sacrifice specified expertise or lessen service efficiency. 

“We want to make sure that people have a streamlined experience. We don’t want to sacrifice subject matter expertise just for a single point of entry. There will be a lot more discussion about what something like that would look like if we decide to move forward.”