Gov. Ricketts Visits ACCESSNebraska to Highlight Great Customer Service
Luke Robson, 402-471-1967
Gov. Ricketts proclaims ACCESSNebraska Team Appreciation Day. The work the team did helped eligibility operations exceed expectations set by a court order.
LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts visited ACCESSNebraska to highlight the excellent customer service the organization is providing. ACCESSNebraska, a subdivision of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), determines eligibility for Medicaid and Economic Assistance. During the event, which was held at the Lincoln call center, Governor Ricketts signed a State of Nebraska proclamation thanking ACCESSNebraska and their Eligibility Operations team.
“Health and Human Services has now been delivering services through ACCESSNebraska in a more effective and efficient manner for over two years,” said Governor Ricketts. “The work of the team has developed a new client-centered approach, which has protected taxpayers from potential loss of federal funding. Thank you to the entire team for their continued dedication to improving operations and taking care of Nebraskans who need our help.”
ACCESSNebraska was criticized in 2015 for taking too long to process applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. At the time, the federal government was threatening to pull $17 million in funding from the program due to poor performance. A settlement agreement in the case of Leiting-Hall v. Winterer, required DHHS to timely process at least 96 percent of SNAP applications, with the court’s jurisdiction to end only when DHHS maintained compliance with those standards for 25 out of 28 months. ACCESSNebraska has now exceeded those requirements, with the DHHS Eligibility Operations team processing SNAP applications and recertification within the federal timelines at least, and often more than, 96 percent of the time for the last 28 months.
Dr. Courtney Phillips, CEO of DHHS, conveyed her appreciation for the Governor’s support and leadership, and vowed to continue identifying new ways to deliver better service. “We know Nebraskans have faced challenges using ACCESSNebraska in the past and we have taken our responsibility to provide quality customer service seriously,” she said. “The department’s ultimate goal is to help the people of Nebraska live better lives. We are fortunate because both the Economic Assistance and Medicaid and Long-Term Care team members who work with ACCESSNebraska embody this mission every day.”
When Governor Ricketts took office, he tasked his team with addressing challenges at ACCESSNebraska. In conjunction with the Governor’s Office, DHHS established monthly performance metrics in 2015 that are published online every month at www.accessnebraska.ne.gov. Reforms that have led to improvement in the performance metrics include:
- Changes to process flows in ACCESSNebraska mail and document imaging centers that have resulted in reducing the cycle time to process and image documents from days to hours.
- Implementation of daily team huddles to improve communication, better coordinate activities, make adjustments to workforce allocations, and conduct rapid problem-solving.
- Reduction in after-call work has reduced the time it takes to wrap up a call by six minutes which has freed up call center staff time and led to increased capacity with existing staffing levels.
A major part of improving performance has been working with frontline team members in the Eligibility Operations team to identify opportunities for improvement. The Eligibility Operations team provides eligibility services across DHHS, and includes teammates from the Economic Assistance, Medicaid, and Child Support programs. ACCESSNebraska is impacting lives and has seen significant improvements as a direct result of their efforts.
“Today, I received the Notice of Action regarding my SNAP eligibility,” wrote one SNAP customer. “There is resolution. You and your entire staff displayed exemplary knowledge and professionalism. Your laudable effort in procuring the proper and accurate information for me to receive the SNAP benefit [sic] is well appreciated. Finally, you and the staff at DHHS are shining stars…representing the knowledge, values and ethics our state of Nebraska proudly holds dear in our hearts.”
In May 2018, the team processed 99.4 percent of the applications and recertification timely. In April 2018, the team was able to process 45 percent of all applications for Economic Assistance on the same day the application was received. The average days to process was 7.05 days in April, which is under the goal of 10 days. Medicaid Eligibility is also processing applications more quickly. In April, 17 days was the median timeframe for processing Medicaid Applications.
“Our Eligibility Operations group works every day to provide high-quality, efficient, and customer friendly services to the people of Nebraska. It’s because of their teamwork, dedication, and commitment that the department has significantly improved the value of ACCESSNebraska and increased department transparency,” said Matt Wallen, director of the Division of Children and Family Services.
Other recent ACCESSNebraska accomplishments include:
- Processing an average of 152,000 documents a month, which equates to over 686,000 pages. Documents are utilized to verify household information and are processed within two days of receipt.
- In April, 6,092 applications for Medicaid were received. 23 percent were received by calling ACCESSNebraska; 57 percent were submitted online; 19 percent via US mail and 1 percent received from the Federally Facilitated Marketplace. The median eligibility determination number of days for Medicaid in April was 17 days. This is the lowest median number of processing days since October 2013.
- May 2018’s call volume totaled 45,768 calls to Economic Assistance and 27,201 calls to Medicaid for a total of 72,969 calls answered in less than five minutes.
In 2008, the State of Nebraska created the ACCESSNebraska system to change its strategy for the administration of economic assistance and Medicaid programs.
The Eligibility Operations team offers in-person services, including assistance with benefit applications, answering eligibility questions, and provider billing at 40 office locations throughout the State of Nebraska. More than 18,000 Nebraskans are assisted monthly in each local office. The busiest locations are the Omaha Intake Center, the Gold’s Building Lincoln center, and the Grand Island South Pine office. During a typical month, each averages approximately 2,500 people served in-person.
DHHS teammates also work together at partner locations, like Sienna Francis House, Open Door Mission and Matt Talbot Kitchen, to offer these services. Matt Talbot Kitchen recently selected DHHS as one of the recipients of its annual Compassion in Action award, due to its community outreach efforts with ACCESSNebraska.
Information regarding ACCESSNebraska’s performance metrics are public and updated monthly at www.accessnebraska.ne.gov.