North Carolina: NC Tracks still off-track

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

RALEIGH, N.C. – Thousands of prior approvals for Medicaid patients here are backed up as industry stakeholders and state officials struggle to iron out problems with a new billing system.

“We are almost two months into this system now and it’s still ridiculously problematic,” said Beth Bowen, executive director of the North Carolina Association of Medical Equipment Services (NCAMES). “There are patients out there that are not getting their stuff for three weeks.”

The system, NC Tracks, went live July 1. Meant to streamline Medicaid billing, it has been plagued with glitches, says Bowen. 

Adding insult to injury: State auditors had expressed concerns in May that the system wasn’t ready, according to multiple local news reports.

Provider Craig Rae couldn’t even get registered in the system for several weeks, even with help from tech support, he said.

“It is impossible to believe how dysfunctional this system is and what you have to do,” said Rae, owner of Penrod Medical Equipment in Salisbury.

NCAMES has been requesting webinars to address the various issues providers are having. It was on one of those webinars, in mid-August, that providers learned they can no longer check same or similar status, because Medicaid thinks that will violate HIPAA laws.

“If I have somebody who is desperate and seems honest and swears they never had XYZ equipment, I’ll take care of them because I’ve got to sleep at night, but I am just rolling the dice,” Rae said.

It’s also still difficult to get answers from NC Tracks, despite the recent hiring of additional staff to handle call volume, says Bowen.

“They haven’t been trained properly,” she said. “When the help desk can’t help, you want to scream.”

Still, Bowen acknowledges NC Tracks is trying to fix things. 

“I do know they are trying to solve it,” she said. “It just got thrown out there before it was ready, and everybody is paying the price.”