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Suffolk County Executive Bellone Announces Enhanced Access to Health Coverage for Medicaid Recipeints

Program Modernizes Department of Social Services to Accept Medicaid Renewals Over the Phone

Suffolk County is the Only County in New York State to Administer this Program


To Schedule a Telephone Renewal Appointment, Beneficiaries Can Call 631-853-8755


Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced the Suffolk County Department of Social Services’ program, which allows Medicaid recipients to schedule an appointment to have their Medicaid renewal completed via phone call, has resulted in a decline of non-compliance and closed cases due to failure to return proper forms. Prior to this program that allows renewals over the phone, Medicaid recipients were required to return a signed eligibility renewal to the Department of Social Services. The program began as a pilot in 2016, and was expanded to include all community Medicaid recipients in 2017.


“My administration is committed to streamlining bureaucracy and reforming outdated processes to better serve residents that depend on Medicaid,” said Suffolk County Executive Bellone.  “By allowing Medicaid beneficiaries to process their renewal over the phone, we are making it more convenient and efficient, while freeing up staff to assist other consumers.”


Social Services Acting Commissioner Dennis Nowak said: “By increasing the rate of successful renewals, the department is able to ensure beneficiaries receive the care they need, while reducing the workload on staff due to reapplications.” 


Suffolk County is the only local Department of Social Services conducting Telephone Renewals for Medicaid. Currently, the New York State of Health Marketplace at Department of Health is the only other entity doing so. The telephone renewal option streamlines the current process to save time and resources for both DSS staff and Medicaid recipients.


A Medicaid specialist will take a residents information over the phone, ask a series of questions and advise if any additional documents are needed to process their renewal. Spanish speaking staff will be available for callers, if needed, and a language line will be used for translation services for languages other than Spanish. The new program is available for all Community Medicaid consumers in Suffolk County. To schedule a telephone renewal appointment, beneficiaries can call 631-853-8755 Monday through Friday from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm.


The primary goal of the program is to reduce the number of case closures resulting from failure to return a renewal form. The most common reason for case closure is failure to return the renewal form, which means cases are often reconsidered and reopened, resulting in unnecessary duplicate work. Since the program’s inception, the non-compliance rate has dropped from an average of 3%, or 90 cases, of the monthly caseload to 1%, or 30 cases, and rate of closure for failure to return a renewal has dropped from a monthly average of 23%, or 496 cases, to approximately 19%, or 410 cases. Additionally, telephone interviews have more than tripled from an average of 88 monthly in 2017 to 270 in 2019.  


Medicaid provides essential medical services for persons receiving Public Assistance and other low-income persons. Typically Medicaid beneficiaries must renew their eligibility every 12 months to continue receiving health insurance. When renewals are not completed on time, recipients may experience a period of uninsurance. 



Categories: County Executive


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