MMIS and NCTracks: New is Not Always Better

by Williams Mullen

New is not always better.

In December 2008, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) awarded a contract to Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) to develop and implement a replacement billing system for Medicaid intended to replace Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS), originally built in the late 1970s.

Because after all…new is always better, right?

People want the newest…the latest…the most up-to-date… Just look at the company Apple.  The company Apple is built on (and thrives on) people’s desire to have the newest and latest gadget.  Hence, IPhone 4, Iphone 4s, Iphone 5, IPhone 5s, IPhone 5c (and, BTW, GENIUS to change the electrical cords, thereby forcing new consumers to also upgrade their docking speakers and even their cell phone covers).

We have two dogs.  Our oldest dog, Booker T, is 14.  He is a lab/dobie mix.  He used to be over 100 lbs, but, in his old age, he is down to 70-ish.  He also has lumps all over him.  My husband calls him “Lumpy” (to his face).  Booker has horrible breath because he has an oral disease rotting away his gums.  Every now and then a tooth falls out.  My husband jokes that if Booker were to be hit by a car, the car would be totaled and Booker would walk away without a scratch.

But Booker is the most loving and loyal dog I have ever known.  When I am standing in the kitchen, Booker will push his head between my legs for a head scratch.  Right now, as I am typing, Booker is at my feet.  When I shower, Booker lays in the bathroom.  When I sleep, Booker lies on the floor beside my side of the bed (Why would he lay beside my husband’s side? He calls him Lumpy, right?)

Then we have Kate.  She is a 2-year-old English Setter.  Absolutely gorgeous!!  In the mornings, she runs 4-8 miles with me.  My husband bought her (at a high price and shipped her in from North Dakota) for bird hunting and she can point like a champ.  She’s very fluffy and cuddley.  When she sees me, she gets all hoppy and excited.  Usually she will leap into the air so that I can catch her and hold her.

But Kate is very special.  If she sees a spot of light on a wall, she will stare/point at it for hours with her nose barely an inch from it.  We have a glass dining room table, and, more than once, Kate has tried to jump into my lap only to bang her head on the table and crumple to the ground.  The other day I brought her a McDonald’s cheeseburger.  She held it in her mouth without eating it and ran around the house.  She finally ended burying it in the back yard and our pig Oink found it to her great satisfaction (Oh, yes, we have a micro pig too, but that is another story).  Kate won’t eat unless I sit down next to her, and, even then, it’s like force feeding.

You see, MMIS is Booker T, and NCTracks is Kate.

MMIS was old, lumpy, and smelly, but it was loyal.  It didn’t have the kinks of a new system.  Like Booker, it could have just kept going.

NCTracks is new and special.  Like Kate, NCTracks tends to stare at something insignificant without doing anything.  It bangs its head on the dining room table and loses its cheeseburgers to a pig.

DHHS wanted the newest…the latest…the IPhone 6…Kate…

But, with the newest also comes the newest kinks…the newest wrinkles…

And DHHS is no Apple.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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