Across the state, Public Assistance Departments are working to improve access to services that support the self-sufficiency of individuals and families through programs such as Food and Nutrition Services and Medicaid. With the development of a new electronic State developed system, NC FAST, community members will be connected to services through a single application process.
What is NC FAST?
NC FAST is a paperless system that houses all public assistance programs in one automated database system. What does that mean for customers? It means telling your story only once through a single application process and then being screened and connected to those services you are eligible for.
This organizational change is driven by the Affordable Care Act and the state’s new digital case-management system, NC FAST which stands for North Carolina Families Accessing Services through Technology.
NC FAST is being phased in and currently Food and Nutrition Services (Food Stamps) cases for all 100 NC counties are operating out of the new NC FAST system. Medicaid and Work First will go online in NC FAST for all 100 counties by Oct. 1. The “soft” launch for the Medicaid and Work First program in Buncombe County will be Sept. 9.
What is ePASS?
To support NC Fast, ePASS is also being developed.
ePASS (Electronic Pre-Assessment Screening Services) provides a new integrated process, where applicants will be able to simultaneously apply for multiple services, saving them the trouble of filling out a number of forms - telling their story just one time. Because the application process is online, ePASS will ensure that customers have the accessibility and flexibility to choose when and how they apply for and receive benefits.
Customers can still visit or contact our agency directly, but through ePASS they can now also apply online. Currently, ePASS is set up so customers can only apply for Food Nutrition Benefits (with other services coming soon).
What does that mean for people in Buncombe County?
With these changes, customers will be able to decide where to apply for services and what benefits they would like to apply for – either from a location such as 40 Coxe Avenue or from the comfort of their home or any location where high speed secured internet access is available.
Buncombe County is supporting these changes with a self-service express center at our 40 Coxe Avenue location for customers to apply at private computer stations at their leisure for all public assistance programs. Customer service representatives will be available to assist customers with their applications and to navigate the new ePASS web based application.
As is common with the implementation of any new statewide database system, customers may experience some delays. It may take longer to process applications and recertifications so we ask that our customers please be patient. As issues with this new transition arise, BC HHS staff will work hard to assist customers and answer any concerns they may have.
With time, NC FAST should greatly improve the customer experience.
Should you have questions about this new system, please call: 828-250-5500.