Tampa Bay Times
August 27, 2020
Let’s say you paid a contractor to build a home but the roof leaked, the siding fell off and the pipes burst — right after you moved in. The contractor then cheered about the quality of the project and how much you were benefiting from such a sturdy, well-built structure. Eventually, you ended up spending more to fix the home than it originally cost. Would you hire that contractor again? Officials with the state Agency for Health Care Administration want to do just that — to the tune of about $135 million.
The decision-making surrounding the contract to handle the state’s Medicaid data raises so many questions it’s hard to know where to start. It’s like Michael Scott from The Office got together with Colonel Klink of Hogan’s Heroes fame to create this slapstick. Except it isn’t funny, and it’s all too real.
The state needs a contractor to centralize and manage the data from its $23 billion Medicaid program. After a recent vetting process, Deloitte Consulting came out on top, the same firm that created the state’s notorious unemployment benefits system. The $77 million CONNECT system failed soon after launching in 2013, leaving many out-of-work Floridians with no way to collect weekly benefits. Deloitte and the state never got CONNECT working well, so when the pandemic sidelined hundreds of thousands of workers earlier this year, the system melted down. The state was forced to spend up to another $110 million to shore it up. So many people complained that Gov. Ron DeSantis called for an investigation into what went wrong.