Local/State

State: Incorrect Medicaid cards mailed to some recipients

Sunday, January 05, 2014

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday that nearly 49,000 Medicaid cards, with the personal information of children on them, went to the wrong people.

Many of the families impacted are right here in the Triangle.

The cards were sent out on New Year's Eve. ABC11 has learned that it was a county social services department that alerted the DHHS of this mistake.

"Who is going to fix this? I did not know if my ID was stolen," said parent Nina Willis. "I don't even know this child."

Willis has been waiting for her child's Medicaid card in the mail. When one finally came, it wasn't for her child. Instead, the card had a different name, address, date of birth, and social security number.

"I'm baffled why I got a card for a child that does not belong to me," said Willis. "It's scary."

DHHS Medicaid Director Sandra Terrell released a statement Saturday saying, "Staff at the Department of Health and Human Services is working through the weekend to continue conducting a full-scale review of this incident and to get people their correct Medicaid cards as soon as possible.

The Department of Health and Human services takes the privacy of Medicaid recipients very seriously and is working to put measures in place to monitor the use of affected Medicaid cards for potential fraud. We regret this incident occurred and are working to ensure it is corrected as soon as possible."

DHHS says it knows exactly which Medicaid cards were sent to which addresses.

However, people are angry that the state made such big mistake and that there is no one who can help them until Monday.

Willis is now worried whether her daughter's personal information was sent out mistakingly. She's also concerned for the child whose information she now holds.

"It really bothers me because this child needs a card to get medical attention," said Willis.

ABC11 also spoke with Jameshia Dixon, another victim in this Medicaid mix-up. Dixon has two children, one who is a teenager, and says she has no idea where her daughter's information has been sent.

"It's kind of embarrassing period because this is Medicaid, and I mean a lot of people use it, and now everybody's information is gone everywhere," said Dixon. "This is definitely a violation of HIPPA."

Terrell assured the public in her statement Saturday that the DHHS is taking all precautions to correct this.

"DHHS is meeting its legal obligations when a potential HIPPA breach is identified. Federal laws and rules require that DHHS go through an analysis to first determine this incident meets the legal requirements to be considered a breach of protected health information. If confirmed, HIPAA breaches must be reported within 60 days of the incident. DHHS privacy and security staff continue to work on that assessment through the weekend as a part of our comprehensive review," assured Terrel in Saturday's released statement.

"I don't know how they can protect it. It's already out so what can you do at this point?" Dixon said.

Meanwhile, children needing services without a correct Medicaid ID card can use their NC Health Choice ID number or card, which is still valid. Providers are also able to verify eligibility in order to deliver services.

Anyone who needs information about the incident or is an affected recipient is advised to call the DHHS Customer Service Center at 1-800-662-7030 during normal business hours on Monday-Friday.

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