The court-appointed “special master” tasked with getting Rhode Island’s Unified Health Infrastructure Project (UHIP) working, Deming Sherman, tells Kate Nagle of GoLocalProv that the system is flawed:
“It (UHIP) was not a bad idea, but bad execution,” said Sherman about UHIP. The good idea of UHIP was to tie five distinct programs together, but the flaws have been that the vendor, Deloitte and the workforce did not work and were not trained, respectively. Just as the UHIP program was being implemented the state laid off key workers. Since then DHS has had a difficult time training and retain workers for the program.
Sherman said the UHIP system has two problems technology and the workforce that operates it.
The surface reaction one has to this is to be incensed that the state government has already spent roughly a half-billion dollars on the system. Nobody forced state government to undertake a project that it was not competent to oversee. In fact, the state barely conducted public discussion before jumping in. Bureaucrats under former Democrat Governor Lincoln Chafee simply went forward as if it was the obvious thing to do.
Similarly, nobody forced Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo to manage her personnel under the assumption that flipping the switch on UHIP would instantly bring a new day. She took a big, big gamble, attempting to make budgetary room for other things, like her crony capitalist approach to economic development, and the state’s vulnerable populations have suffered for it.
More deeply, though, we should challenge Sherman’s statement that the concept was sound. The goal of UHIP, which was pushed down from activists at the national level (with the encouragement of Democrat Congressman David Cicilline), is to draw people into dependency on government. The system has the 40-page application about which Sherman complains in part because the designers want it to collect scads of information about people, which would be constantly updated on the pretense of regularly checking eligibility.
If it weren’t for the human suffering and loss of opportunity that it’s causing, we should actually be happy that UHIP isn’t working, which is a sad statement on the condition of our democracy. Being saved from insidious ideas by managerial incompetence is not a silver lining that ought to inspire confidence or hope.