Sending Medicaid to the Cloud

David Raths | government technology | January 12, 2016

Led by Wyoming, states are ready to pioneer MMIS as a service.

The Wyoming state government already has considerable experience with cloud-based services. It uses Google Apps for Government, NEOGOV for human resources and is looking at for customer relationship management. But as its Department of Health prepares to issue an RFP to replace its Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS), all eyes in the Medicaid IT sector are on Wyoming because it will be the first time a state has tried to move away from an expensive custom-developed system to an MMIS-as-a-service approach.

The project is called WINGS (for Wyoming Integrated Next Generation System). “When you look at the overall costs of traditional MMIS to the federal government and the states, it is a little on the insane side,” said Teri Green, senior administrator and state Medicaid agent in the Wyoming Department of Health’s Division of Healthcare Financing. “It is time to take a hard look at what we want and need.”

An April 2015 Government Technology story detailed the difficulties states face with the ever-changing federal and state requirements for what MMIS platforms must do. Because there are just 50 such systems in the country, only a handful of software vendors respond to procurements for new systems. Cost overruns, critical audits, lawsuits and finger pointing between states and IT vendors are commonplace. But the embrace of a service-oriented architecture (SOA) by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which funds most MMIS development work, has set the stage for states to finally start breaking up big procurements into smaller chunks, which should also allow new vendors to enter the market...