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UHIP creator Deloitte testifies before House panel

The company behind Rhode Island’s broken UHIP system issued an apology to lawmakers during a hearing at the State House Thursday, April 12, 2018. (WJAR)

The company behind Rhode Island’s broken UHIP system issued an apology to lawmakers during a hearing at the State House Thursday.

Deloitte Consulting said the company is working with the state to improve the program, which is also known as Rhode Island Bridges.

Company representatives testified in front of the House Oversight Committee for the first time.

"We are continuing to hold ourselves accountable and work closely with the state to prioritize and fix the outstanding issues," said Deborah Sills, who is the national managing principal with Deloitte Consulting.

So far, Rhode Island has paid Deloitte about $240 million, with about $87 million credited back to the state.

The State has stopped paying Deloitte until the problems with the system are resolved.

"We know why the system failed," said Oversight Chairwoman Patricia Serpa, a Democrat who represents Warwick, West Warwick and Coventry. "We don't have to revisit history. Laying off seasoned workers, not running a paralleled system.

Deloitte representatives said although UHIP was a “high stakes" project, a pilot run was never done before the system went live in 2016.

It’s something they now say would have been wise to do, since many of the problems arose after the system was rolled out.

States like Connecticut had a pilot prior to full roll out, they said.

"If things go south, like they have, is the State required to have a fallback plan?," asked House Majority Whip Blake Flippi, a Republican.

Deloitte said improvements have been made to enhance the system, reduce backlogs and better process applications.

The company says only about 1 percent of SNAP applications were not processed on time in the month of March.

"I feel good about the progress they're making, but they have to keep at it and we will not pay them until they do," said Department of Human Services Director Courtney Hawkins.

Deloitte could not give an exact timeline of when the system will be completely functional, only vowing to fix it without any additional cost to taxpayers.

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