HSITAG and the changing federal funding landscape of IT Projects

On  Thursday, July 20th, senior officials from the UDSA’s Food and Nutrition Services Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) came to talk to HSITAG members about the issues that keep them up at night as well as their outlook on the future of HHS IT funding and projects.  With uncertainty surrounding the future of the Affordable Care Act, as well as changes in federal administration priorities, members of HSITAG have been following closely any rumored changes to healthcare and the impacts on technology funding.  

HHS Agency has been plagued with vacancies at high level appointments, and when asked about those positions, as well as the outlook or advice they provide to unsure states, SNAP officials had the same answer that most of us have:  we aren’t sure about what is to come.  Karen Painter-Jacquess, Director of State Systems for FNS, did raise a looming deadline that is fast approaching for many.  Medicaid eligibility and enrollment technology systems are currently funded by 90% federal funds and 10% state funds. The OMB A-87 Cost Allocation Waiver allows the same match formula to be applied to projects that leverage these Medicaid systems in other HHS programs but this Waiver will be expiring at the end of 2018 and extension is not likely. The expiration will have a big impact on non-medicaid funded state IT projects that focus on an enterprise-wide interoperable outlook on health and human services.  The match will revert back to a 50% match in 2019 for anything not related to Medicaid systems, including new and ongoing SNAP or Administration for Children and Families projects.  According to Painter Jacquess, 90% of states are in the middle of SNAP system overhauls, and the trend is going towards ongoing system modernization as opposed to the large big-bang projects in the past.  With this level of activity happening at the state level, one thing is certain:  states should be leveraging this current waiver to take advantage of funding through the rest of the year and 2018 as much as possible because any work not completed on December 31, 2018 will not be funded on many of these large systems.  

For more information on HSITAG meetings, including a look at survey information on the extent that states are using the A-87 cost allocation waiver, check out the HSITAG website at www.comptia.org/hsitag or contact Jennifer Saha at jsaha@comptia.org.