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HSD Promises User-Friendly System For SNAP And Medicaid Applications

Max Pixel via CC0

People who apply for food and medical assistance programs in New Mexico got used to long waits, mysterious denials, and catch-22s of bureaucracy. But after years of litigation, wait times are way down and a notorious backlog of cases is pretty much cleared. The new Human Services Department secretary has his eye on updating tech to make the whole system easier and more foolproof.

When David Scrase was interviewing to lead HSD, he says Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s marching orders were clear: Make sure all eligible people in New Mexico get the benefits they need, find the problems in the system and fix them.

"We can provide them access to applying for benefits in a way that’s much more user-friendly," Scrase said. "Orienting our processes and approaches to providing people benefits in a way that meets their needs more directly will increase trust."

Part of his plan? An app for your smartphone.

Scrase is picturing people talking to HSD workers via video chat, instead of waiting all day to see someone in person. And you could take photos of the documents needed for your file and upload them, easy. He says there will also be a push to upgrade the computer system HSD workers use, so they can process aid more quickly. That new system could also have accuracy checks and red flags built in.

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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