Board approves $297M new Medicaid system

By Megan Poinski

The 20-year-old Medicaid computer system is getting a $297 million upgrade, the Board of Public Works voted unanimously on Wednesday.

Health department logoThe new computer system, which is being developed by Hanover-based Computer Sciences Corporation, will bring Medicaid into modern times, said Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Joshua Sharfstein. The federal government is picking up 90% of the approximately $100 million to design and build the system, and 75% of the cost to maintain it. The contract approved by the Board of Public Works establishes the new system and services it for six years.

Sharfstein said that the cost to maintain the new system will be comparable to current maintenance costs, but a more modern system will help in other ways.

“The new system is better at monitoring money, and is better at figuring out costs and outcomes,” Sharfstein said.

He told the Board of Public Works that the new system will have exacting ways of tracking payments, making fraud much easier to detect. Similarly, it will look at patterns in health care and make recommendations for individuals to take preventative steps to avoid medical emergencies.

Gov. Martin O’Malley, a member of the Board of Public Works, jumped in with his own explanation of why the new system is so important.

“It will enable us to identify aberrant patterns, which will help us to identify and ferret out fraud,” O’Malley said. “The system will show us the efficacy of treatments and high costs. It will give us a map we’ve never had before.”

Sharfstein added that the old system had limited ways to look for fraud and waste, and it was also programmed using a computer language people stopped using years ago.

The new system, he said, will be able to interface with other state computer systems, as well as Medicaid systems in other states.

The other two members of the Board of Pubic Works, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp, also supported the new system.

Now that the contract has been approved, it will be designed and built over the next 30 months, said Charles Lehman, executive director of the Office of Systems Operations and Pharmacy.

About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.

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