V.I. to join West Virginia's Medicaid system

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ST. CROIX - Government House announced Friday that the territory will be incorporated into West Virginia's Medicaid Management Information System, which was described as "a landmark partnership" that would reduce costs and improve services to the territory's Medicaid recipients.

The move will allow West Virginia's system to handle the claims generated by the territory's Medicaid population, according to a statement issued by Government House.

After signing a memorandum of understanding with the state of West Virginia in 2011, Gov. John deJongh Jr. on Oct. 5 executed the contract with the system provider, Molina Medicaid Solutions. The contract was subject to approval by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services and went through several rounds of review during the last two months at the federal level, according to the release.

The project came out of an informal conversation that deJongh had with the former governor and current U.S. Senator from West Virginia, Joseph Manchin III, during a Democratic Governors Association meeting the Virgin Islands hosted in 2008, the statement said.

"I can't thank Senator Manchin and current Governor Earl Ray Tomblin enough. Senator Manchin told me four years ago that West Virginia could help the Virgin Islands attain access to a state-of-the-art system, and he followed through with his promise," deJongh said in the release.

West Virginia's system, operated by Molina, is the first to be certified under the Department of Health and Human Services Seven Conditions and Standards for Enhanced Funding, according to Government House.

"By using that service to transform our Medicaid system, it allows us greater access to further federal assistance down the road and throughout the period of Health Care Reform," deJongh said in the statement.

The technology will enhance reporting and accountability and improve services to beneficiaries, according to Government House. It will also allow for timely payments to providers, facilitate collection of important claims data that can be used to further improve the Medicaid processes and enhance the quality of care to the territory's Medicaid beneficiaries, according to the release.

"We're excited to be a part of this historic partnership," Dr. J. Mario Molina, president and chief executive officer of Molina Healthcare, said in the release.

The territory's Medicaid Management Information System implementation plan has been approved by CMS, and as a result the Virgin Islands will be the first territory to have a certified system, according to Government House.

Establishing a Medicaid Management Information System, or MMIS, independently would have cost in the tens of millions of dollars, according to the statement.

It does not, however, say what the territory has spent on the partnership - nor does it say how much cost-savings the territory expects to see from the partnership.

The territory is currently in the process of an MMIS project start, which started Tuesday and will continue through Oct. 19. During this time, the V.I. Human Services Department is hosting representatives from Molina and staff from the V.I. Human Services' Family Services Division, the Bureau of Health Insurance and Medical Assistance, the Office of the Governor, the V.I. Health Department's Information Technology unit and the V.I. Finance Department are participating.

The territory is expected to be fully incorporated into the system and go live by July 2013, according to the release.

The partnership serves as a model for the entire country by demonstrating that state and territorial governments can reduce local and federal costs by sharing such technologies, according to Government House.

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