To get a sense of the flood of work the state department of social services deals with, just look at the big raw number: DSS serves more than 750 thousand state residents. But a number of legal actions have suggested the department hasn’t kept pace with that growth. For instance, one class action suit suggests DSS doesn’t have anywhere near enough workers to process the tidal wave of Medicaid applications that have come in over the last decade. Since 2002, the suit alleges, staffing at DSS has held flat - between 800 and 900 workers - while the caseload has doubled to well over 600 thousand. This means long waits for some people to get healthcare coverage - much more than the federal standard.
The department’s Commissioner, Rod Bremby, says the problem can’t be solved by just adding more workers, and they’ve undergone a massive “modernization” program, arguing that technology and efficiency will get the problem under control.
But, as we’ve said, that’s just one of many issues faced by this enormous state department.
Today, Commissioner Bremby joins us on Where We Live to talk health care reform, modernization and serving the needy in a time of government cutbacks.