Rollout Date for New Eligibility System is Near - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

02/10/06 - East Texas

Rollout Date for New Eligibility System is Near

by Ramonica R. Jones

The Health and Human Services Commission is getting closer to the rollout date for its new eligibility plan. Several offices will close.

It's part of the department's plan to give clients more options when applying for Medicare, CHIPS, food stamps, and other programs. Some offices in East Texas are among those closing.

HHS spokesperson, Geoff Wool, said, "There were some offices that, frankly, were not doing very much business and there were other offices that were close by. So, in the process of restructuring the system, there were some offices we were able to close while still maintaining a presence in that area."

July is the rollout date for East Texas. Starting next summer, residents who lose their local office can communicate with HHS by phone, fax, mail or online, but they'll still be able to visit an office near them.

"The restructuring will save money, yes, but it also provides new options for our clients. It gives them the convenience. No longer will they be required to go to the office, make that trip, certainly for people who are disabled."

The new eligibility system will save the Health and Human Services Commission about $646 million over the next five years.

Four call centers will use a new automated system, making the application process easier and reducing paperwork errors.

Groveton residents who need services from the Health and Human Services department can go to the Crockett office. Rusk residents can visit the office in Jacksonville or Palestine.

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