Cuyahoga County’s call centers for Medicaid to be expanded for food stamps

November 15, 2017 GMT

Cuyahoga County’s call centers for Medicaid to be expanded for food stamps

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Cuyahoga County’s program to allow people to apply for Medicaid by phone has been so successful that plans are in the works to allow phone applications for food stamps.

The county had previously required people to apply in person. But many residents could not easily get out of work, training, or child-care responsibilities to apply for, renew, or report changes related to their receipt of public benefits, according to a study by the Center for Community Services..

In January, the Department of Health and Human Services, with the support of the state, launched a pilot call center program at the Virgil E. Brown Neighborhood Family Service Center. The phone number was not advertised, but was included in renewal packets sent to customers.


During the first two months, the center handled more than 1,200 calls, of which 91 percent had no wait time.

In the spring and summer, the call center expanded to the Southgate, Old Brooklyn and Quincy Place family service centers. A separate call center that handles long-term care Medicaid cases began as a pilot by accepting applications from 13 nursing facilities.

In addition, a partnership began with Cuyahoga County Public Library branches to allow residents to fax verification forms to Job and Family Services through the library at no charge.

The call-center program is now permanent and in October the county began publicizing the number. Materials advertising the call center were placed in waiting rooms across the agency and in library branches.

Customers seeking to apply for Medicaid can call 1-844-640-6446.

As of Oct. 30, the call center teams at the four neighborhood family service centers have handled 26,604 calls.

“One of our most important strategic priorities is our focus on providing a superior customer service,” county Executive Armond Budish said in a release.“Our call centers are an important step towards improving our customer experience. We are committed to broadening access and to making our service delivery as efficient as possible.”

The county is working with the state to secure the permission and technology necessary to add food assistance (SNAP) to the call center, so customers could apply, renew, and make changes over the phone. This is expected to be available in 2018.