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Counties unite to create Medicaid call center

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MEDINA — Medina County is joining three other counties in a call center that will allow clients to apply for or renew Medicaid.

Jeff Felton, director of Medina County Job and Family Services, said a memorandum of understanding will be signed by Medina, Ashtabula, Lorain and Trumbull counties in what will be referred to as MALT.

“We’re hoping it allows us to give better services to some of our customers,” Felton said.

Clients can call the enterprise number at (844) 640-OHIO (6446) and the call center will route calls to the appropriate County Shared Services, or CSS group, using Zip code and the client’s call menu option selection.

The goal is to serve clients to the fullest extent possible while on the call.

There are 73 counties in Ohio committed to the CSS model, and each group will work collaboratively across county lines within virtual service centers.

Medina and Ashtabula counties are going live with the new system Thursday, Trumbull plans to go live in August and Lorain County will join once its phone system is compatible with the CSS program.

Each county office will have staff dedicated to answering the Medicaid calls.

Felton said the state will see how many Medicaid applications each of the MALT counties have and then will “calculate how many staff hours each of us are going to need to contribute to this pool.”

The call center will reduce the need for clients to come into the office.

“The amount of traffic in the lobby decreases,” Felton said. “There’s no waiting in line.”

He said eventually the entire application process likely will be online.

“You won’t have to come into the office,” Felton said.

From July to December 2017, Medina County Job and Family Services received 201 Medicaid intake calls and 659 renewals, according to figures provided by Felton’s office.

Cheryl Mason, of Job and Family Services, said clients have to renew Medicaid on a yearly basis.

“Our clients aren’t good at follow-up,” she said. “They don’t turn in their renewal and then go to the doctor. ‘Cheryl, I need my Medicaid today.’ It happens all the time. We try to process them as quickly as we can.”

Mason said oftentimes she’ll send a letter to clients, telling them she needs certain documents.

“I have to wait for them to send it to me,” she said. “If I have them on the phone, ‘Oh, you work at McDonald’s,’ and I’ll call McDonald’s (to confirm their employment). It’s quicker because I’m getting those answers right now.”

Felton said he’s not ready for a campaign promoting the program to all of his office’s clients.

“We need to let our staff get used to this process before we do any widespread advertising,” he said.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.
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