MassHealth to double call center capacity amid labor shortage

03/29/2023 Ashlyn Wang

Massachusetts health program MassHealth is set to expand its call center over the next two months to determine the eligibility of its 2.3 million beneficiaries, despite the ongoing labor shortage.

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Michael Levine, assistant secretary for MassHealth, has indicated that approximately 300,000 people are expected to lose access to state-funded coverage over the next year. This is because of the expiration of the federal requirement for continuous Medicaid coverage, which came into effect in March 2020, coupled with the state’s first time undergoing a “required determination process” since the start of the pandemic.

An official notification on the MassHealth website indicates that the program may contact its members to inquire about their coverage information.

In recent years, the issue of labor shortages has become prevalent in the country’s public and private sectors. A recent report by GBH noted that the number of job vacancies in Massachusetts exceeds that of unemployed workers by 115,000. Additionally, the number of jobs in the state is expected to increase by 21% by 2030, while the workforce is only projected to grow by 1.5%. This challenge is also being experienced within the MassHealth call center.

“No one who runs a call center is having an easy time staffing that call center right now,” Levine said. “It’s a challenge, and it’s one we’re focused on.”

In response to issues encountered, the center has decided to bolster its workforce and enhance its capacity to manage diverse verification tasks. Their plan involves expanding the number of customer service representatives, recruiting additional staff to assess members’ eligibility, and engaging temporary workers to assist with application processing.

“We are pulling out all the stops from ways of recruiting people, bringing them on, and making sure it’s a career path that they want to see,” said Levine.

MassHealth provides extensive healthcare services to individuals and families residing in the state. As of May, MassHealth officials will publicly display a dashboard that outlines the location, demographic information, and reasons for MassHealth coverage loss of affected individuals.