DHHS mailed nearly 49,000 Medicaid cards to wrong people
Posted January 3, 2014
Updated January 4, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — The state Department of Health and Human Services mailed nearly 49,000 Medicaid cards to the wrong people, the agency announced Friday evening. The cards show the child's name, Medicaid ID number, date of birth and primary care physician.
DHHS was trying to issue new cards to 70,253 children who were switched from the N.C. Health Choice program to Medicaid due to new eligibility rules. But more than half of the cards – 48,752 – went to the wrong Medicaid recipients.
The agency became aware of the problem Thursday after a county Department of Social Services reported that clients had received the wrong cards, according to DHHS spokesman Ricky Diaz.
However, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported that DHHS first learned of the problem Tuesday and alerted the media at 5:21 p.m. Friday, about 30 minutes after WSOC-TV in Charlotte posted a story about the error.
"The Department has begun a careful review of this incident to determine how it occurred and to ensure personal information is protected," DHHS acting Medicaid director Sandra Terrell said a statement. "DHHS knows exactly which Medicaid cards were sent to which addresses, and is rapidly working to issue correct Medicaid cards."
The card mix-up will not affect the children's Medicaid coverage or benefits, DHHS said. Children who need services and don't have a correct Medicaid ID card can use their NC Health Choice ID number or card, which is still valid. Providers are also able to verify eligibility in order to deliver services.
"Medicaid recipients will be issued new Medicaid cards with new Medicaid ID numbers," Terrell said in a statement. "In addition, the Medicaid Division will flag the affected Medicaid ID cards within DHHS' computer systems to treat them with extra scrutiny and caution."
The mistakenly sent Medicaid cards will be invalid, DHHS said.
Staff at the Department of Health and Human Services were working through the weekend to review the incident and to identify if any HIPAA laws were violated, the statement said.
Anyone with questions should call the DHHS Customer Service Center Number on the back of their Medicaid card: 1-800-662-7030. The phone line is staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.