Judge: Push forward with new welfare system
It’s full steam ahead for Colorado’s new benefits management system – the same system that has been causing havoc at county social service departments across the state since it went online Sept. 1.On Tuesday, Denver District Court Judge John W. Coughlin ruled on a lawsuit filed by Colorado Center on Law and Policy that asked that the state be allowed to return to the old Legacy system rather than to continue to use the new Colorado Benefits Management System. Coughlin ruled that because there wasn’t enough evidence that harm had been done, government officials will have to continue using the new CBMS system. Garfield County Commissioner John Martin said he was “scared to death” that the judge decided in favor of CBMS, but that the county has a contingency plan in place to deal with the myriad of problems that the new system has caused since it went online Sept. 1. “They have installed 12 new servers, but that’s not the problem,” Martin said. “The problem is the time it takes to enter the data in the new system.”Martin said under the old system, one person would be considered one case, even if they were enlisted in multiple programs such as Medicaid and food stamps. In CBMS, that same person’s information has to be entered twice, causing a seemingly endless backlog of data at county social services offices across the state. Martin also said social services employees have no way to get errors out of the system once they’re inputted. Commissioner Larry McCown said that he doesn’t feel that CBMS was adequately tested before all of Colorado’s welfare benefits system was transferred to it. He said he would have liked to have seen the system tested in a few counties first for several months to make sure it was fully operational and that all the glitches had been worked out.As it stands, Garfield County social services director Lynn Renick said her department has been able to enter only 79 cases into the new system since the beginning of September. The county has a backlog of 3,500 people whose cases must be entered into the new system, and just this month, and the department has added more than new 220 cases.Despite these and other problems, Gov. Bill Owens was pleased with Coughlin’s ruling.”The judge’s decision was in line with the consensus that came from Monday’s meeting that we should proceed with the new system,” Owens said. “We are respectful of the judge’s concerns regarding the system and remain committed to resolving those concerns.” Garfield County Commissioners will continue to address CBMS issues at their meeting Monday, Oct. 4. Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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