Florida Department of Children & Families addresses turbulent Medicaid redetermination process, excessive call wait times

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Deputy Secretary of Florida DCF, Casey Penn // The Florida Channel, 10/11/23

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A state Senate committee met Wednesday morning to discuss Florida’s turbulent Medicaid redetermination process. One key topic on the table was excessively long wait times for Medicaid’s call center.

Republican Senator Gayle Harrell is the chair of the committee.

“Where are we? What is happening? And how is DCF dealing with this?”

Recently, Florida House Democrats raised alarms after state data showed that more than 520,000 Florida residents have been terminated from Medicaid since April. And almost half of them are children.

Long call center wait times could impede reenrollment.

Senator Harrell mentioned that the Florida Department of Children and Families received over 10 million dollars of funding.

“Do you have adequate resources at this point for a call center that’s not going to require people to wait 40 minutes for a response?”

Deputy Secretary at DCF, Casey Penn, mentioned that they are considering using AI to help bring down wait times.

“We are fully staffed. We have around 400 agents. Between vendor staff when it comes to FTE’s, vendors staff, OPS, and ours answering the call center line. Right now we’re focused on how we better serve these customers through technology as well as obviously maintaining our staff levels are possibly adding to our OPS staff there.”

A study by UnidosUS showed the average Spanish language caller had to wait nearly two and a half hours. That’s is four times the wait imposed on the average English language caller.

Penn responded to the claims.

“The data does not show that there’s any disparity between race or ethnicity when it comes to you being able to re-enroll in Medicaid. As a matter of fact, it is within 3 percentage points difference between, you know, whether you Hispanic, black, white”

DCF shared that a special phone line for the Medicaid redetermination process was created with only a five-minute wait time.

The committee will meet again on October 18th.

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