July 15,1999

Roth, Moynihan Urge Attention to Year 2000 Compliance Issues in Medicaid Program

WASHINGTON -- Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE) and Ranking Member Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) today released the following statement at a hearing on government preparedness held by the Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem:

"Over the past few years, the federal government has made significant progress on the year 2000 (Y2K) computer problem: According to the Office of Management and Budget, 93 percent of the Federal government's mission-critical systems have been fixed. But, with just 169 days until 2000, much work remains to be done, and state programs as well as federal programs are vulnerable. Failure of state computers could have a devastating effect on many, including those who rely on essential state-administered programs.

"As Chairman and Ranking Member of the Finance Committee, we are particularly concerned with Y2K's affect on the Medicaid program. While much attention has rightly been paid to Medicare's Y2K preparedness, we must not overlook the importance of making sure Medicaid's computers are ready for 2000. Nearly 40 million Americans rely on the Medicaid program for their health care, and because of the federal-state partnership at the heart of Medicaid, its systems' challenges are very complicated.

"Last December, we asked the General Accounting Office (GAO) to begin an ongoing evaluation of Medicaid's Y2K compliance status. This is an enormous task because there are 50 different state Medicaid programs, and each one interfaces with other local and state agencies as well as private contractors and health providers. GAO's work, combined with the on-site evaluations undertaken by the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), indicate real progress by states to make their Medicaid eligibility and claims processing systems Y2K compliant.

"But given the immense importance of ensuring smooth operations of a program that serves millions of low-income senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, pregnant women, and children, we will continue to closely monitor Medicaid's Y2K compliance status. We call on HCFA, the states, and the program's private sector partners to make Medicaid compliance a top priority. Failure could cause real hardships in the lives of those most vulnerable. We know state officials share our concerns and are confident that all necessary steps will be taken to make January 1, 2000, just another day for the Medicaid program. "