GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Gaston County Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) staff are busy preparing to go live with the next phase of the ongoing rollout of NC FAST, North Carolina Families Accessing Services through Technology.
The same is true for counties all across the state of North Carolina.
On August 1st, the Adult Medicaid program – including services for the aged, blind and disabled – will transition to the NC FAST system.
State leaders tell WBTV the NC FAST case management system was developed as a tool to improve the way individuals enroll in a wide range of services, including Food and Nutrition Services (formerly Food Stamps), Medicaid, Work First, and Child Care.
By the end of the 5-year rollout of the system, NC FAST will replace 19 "legacy computer systems" used to deliver social service benefits and will enable the 100 county social service agencies in North Carolina to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time assisting families.
Leaders stress that with each new rollout, counties must also prepare for technical difficulties that may arise when switching over to the new system.
Several delays were reported when Food and Nutrition Services converted to the NC FAST system earlier this year.
Problems were especially prevalent in rural areas.
To prepare for potential challenges, Gaston DHHS is in the process of hiring a consultant who has worked with the state DHHS NC FAST project, is preparing to open a Customer Support Call Center to respond to client issues, and Economic Services staff is working overtime.
Karen Calhoun, Gaston DHHS Administration Division Director, said "We have been doing everything we can to prepare for this next phase. We are aware that many of our most medically-challenged clients depend on the Adult Medicaid system, so we understand the importance of things going smoothly with this transition."
Chris Dobbins, Gaston DHHS Director, added, "While the technical challenges can be frustrating, we know this new system will eventually help us better serve our clients and create much more efficient services."
Other important dates for the changeover are October 6th, when all existing active Medicaid cases will convert into the NC FAST system, and November 15th when the Affordable Care Act begins open enrollment.