Medicaid help arrives for one Wake woman, but others still wait

Posted March 14, 2014

Sarah Skeen, waiting on Medicaid application

— A woman waiting for Medicaid coverage finally heard from the Wake County Division of Social Services on Friday, a day after her story was featured on WRAL News.

Sarah Skeen, a single working mother, applied for Medicaid coverage through Wake County last November after a doctor found a suspicious lump in Skeen's breast and recommended a biopsy.

Skeen, who is uninsured, couldn't afford the biopsy, so she sought help.

She said she was told when she filed that she should have coverage by the end of December.  Weeks later, she was informed her application had not yet been processed. 

On Friday, Skeen said she received a message from a Wake County case manager, seeking additional information to get her Medicaid approved. 

Several would-be donors also contacted WRAL News, asking whether they could pay for part or all of Skeen's biopsy. 

"This is just overwhelming," she said. "Thank you!"

Meanwhile, Wake County Assistant Social Services Director Liz Scott confirmed that about 1,500 Medicaid applications are severely overdue. 

Applications are supposed to be processed within 45 days, she said.  But that's been slowed by several factors. Two are related to NC FAST, the problem-plagued benefits program the state rolled out in 2013. 

First, counties had to use all available staff to catch up with backlogged food stamp cases to avoid punitive action by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While state leaders said undertrained and understaffed county offices were largely to blame for the backlog, county workers and internal Department of Health and Human Services emails showed the program itself was so dysfunctional that it was taking workers hours to enter a single case.

Scott said county Medicaid workers who were diverted to the food stamp backlog in February are now back to processing Medicaid. 

Second, counties are now required to enter new Medicaid applications into NC FAST as well. While DHHS leaders say the major problems with NC FAST have been addressed, Scott says the program remains "slower than processing in our old system, and there are some system problems that are being reported and worked on."

Third, the county's social service caseload has ballooned over the past few years, while its staffing levels remained the same.  Last month, the Wake County Board of Commissioners approved hiring dozens of new caseworkers and managers to help address the staffing shortfall. 

Finally, the county – like every other county in the country – is receiving many new Medicaid applications through the federal marketplace for the Affordable Care Act. This effect, known as "woodworking," has nearly doubled the county's monthly workload. 

DHHS could not provide statewide backlog numbers for Medicaid applications.


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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Mar 18, 2014

    Republicans are costing NC $2.5 Billion by not expanding Medicaid and thousands will continue to go without healthcare. ...all because the party hates Obama more than they care about North Carolinians.

    This childish attitude has a cost, but what do they care?

    What kind of sad "family values" are these?

  • redfish Mar 18, 2014

    Unfortunately this woman finds herself dependent on gov. I wish her well and hope she and other learn independence is always best. I hope she does whatever she can and reduces her dependency. Seems most on here demand gov agencies run efficiently.

  • mike275132 Mar 17, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Probably less than will die from ObamaCare policy cancellations.
    Ah, the Democrat Welfare party, always wanting more welfare benefits

  • Matt Wood Mar 17, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    To your first comment, anecdotes do not equal evidence. Got any data or verified, published stories to back up your claims?

    As for the other note, if someone is in the position you describe then the number of hours worked would be considered in their eligibility determination, completely negating your claim.

  • notexactly Mar 17, 2014

    their are millions of people that claim to be working poor and actually could be making more money if they choose to. You cant expect every job to support one self, much less two. I mean lets say someone works 25 hours a week making crafts and sales them at craft shows. Lets say they make 20K a year. Is this a job that should support that person? why don't that person work another 15 hours or more some place else to supplement the income? Because they choose not to. They would rather say I am poor and need help. See you can claim all are working poor and disabled, but that is simply not true.

  • notexactly Mar 17, 2014

    Yes jack jones

    I know that everyone that don't have insurance is simply because they cant afford it!!! I know that ALL of the so called working poor cant afford it. I hope she gets help, but you guys sock everyone with their hand out as working poor and it simply is not true. There are many, many people that could afford insurance. They choose not to. Maybe this woman cant, fine. I am all for helping her. But please stop claiming everyone on the system is legit. They are not. Just like everyone on disability are not disabled. I know many people that have a disability and work full time jobs, and contribute to society. So your working poor, disabled, category is bogus. It really robs from the ones that truly need the help. Sadly. Like the elderly and truly disabled. I feel sad for them.

  • foodstamptrader Mar 17, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Why would the working taxpayers of NC want to be saddled with another massive expansion of the fraud ridden, cost escalating Medicaid handout?

    This program was developed to be a safety net for the truly indigent elderly, children and disabled. It was never intended to be a free health insurance handout to able bodied adults that choose low paying professions or make poor life decisions.

    As a young woman, this person could have chosen to carry a low cost, high deductible health policy. She instead expects the taxpayers to pay for her and her child to enjoy free health insurance. I would guess she also get food stamps, and probably EIC if she claims such poverty. The whole thing is out of whack...

  • 42_wral_mods_suck_i'm_gone Mar 17, 2014

    "Tillis McCrory Berger need to expand Medicaid now."

    Ditto. How many people have died waiting for Tillis, McCrory, and Berger to expand Medicare. 10 , 100, 1000, 10,000?

  • 42_wral_mods_suck_i'm_gone Mar 17, 2014

    "Tillis McCrory Berger need to expand Medicaid now."

    Ditto. How many people have died waiting for Tillis, McCrory, and Berger to expand Medicare. 10 , 100, 1000, 10,000?

  • jcdaly52 Mar 17, 2014

    Many folks don't know that there is a gap between qualifying for Medicaid and qualifying for ACA subsidies. That is why many were, and still are, unhappy that NC did not expand Medicaid in our state. The expansion would have covered about 500,000 working poor that make too much for Medicaid, and, not enough to receive ACA subsidies. Under-employed single adults are hit the hardest.