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A new pilot program that involves a partnership between the Social Security Administration (SSA) and one of the nation’s largest health care provides could offer a new way to expedite the disability benefits claims process and save both organizations money.According to national news sources, the SSA will partner with Kaiser Permanente, a managed care consortium that operated in nine states and that is comprised of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, and Permanente Medical Groups. Together, the two entities will electronically share medical records and health care information from a large group of disabled patients located in the San Diego area using the file-sharing guidelines provided by the Nationwide Health Information Network. No patients will have their information shared between these groups until they give their consent.The SSA hopes that this new partnership and plan will help speed up the Social Security disability benefits claims process and help reduce the large backlog of cases that cause many disabled Americans to wait months and even years for financial support. They also believe that the move will save both the government agency and the healthcare conglomerate a significant amount of time – the time that it takes for the two parties to exchange information on individual patients.

Although the SSA already has over a dozen information exchange partnerships already in place with other organizations, this pilot program will be the first time that the SSA will undertake a large-scale healthcare IT project.

SSA commissioner Michael Astrue stated: “I am confident that people will look back at today’s announcement as the most significant improvement in our disability determination process since the program began in 1956.”

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Morgan & Weisbrod LLP

by Paul B. Burkhalter
Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.


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