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Texas Tests Fingerprinting System For Medicaid Recipients

The state plans to issue smart cards to catch Medicaid cheaters and has selected several services vendors to implement pilot phases of the project.
The state of Texas is hoping to catch Medicaid cheaters by issuing smart cards to the 2.7 million state residents who qualify for the low-income health-services program. The cards would be encoded with a digital representation of the bearer's fingerprint to prevent card swapping. The cards could also be used to track patients' movements through the state's health-care system to verify that they received services billed to the state.

Texas' Health and Human Services Commission has selected several IT services vendors to implement pilot phases of the project, which could be fully introduced next year. Atos Origin, EDS, and Maximus are among the vendors competing for the final contract.

Atos Origin, a French firm that recently acquired the IT services arm of Schlumberger Sema, is introducing the program this month in Tarrant County, which includes Fort Worth.

Paul Stewart, Atos Origin's executive VP and CEO for North and South America, says his firm is counting on Schlumberger's extensive experience with smart-card technology to help secure the contract, the value of which hasn't been disclosed. As part of its acquisition of Schlumberger Sema, Atos Origin inherited a contract to provide smart-card technology for the upcoming Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. "It's a strong area of expertise for us," Stewart says. However, EDS may have an edge--it's headquartered in Plano, Texas, and already has a contract to provide fraud-detection software for the state's Medicaid program.

The smart-card project is part of a broader reorganization of Texas' health-care system under House Bill 2922, parts of which have drawn fire from labor and privacy advocates. In a recent report, the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a nonprofit organization, cautioned that forcing Medicaid recipients to be fingerprinted before receiving health-care benefits could discourage immigrants and ex-convicts from seeking medical help.

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