RALEIGH, NC (WECT/AP) - North Carolina health officials say human error in computer programming is to blame for last week's massive privacy breach where cards with the personal information of nearly 49,000 children receiving Medicaid benefits were mailed to the wrong addresses.
A statement issued by the state Department of Health and Human Services on Monday said a computer program developed to extract information from a state Medicaid database to generate the mass mailing utilized the incorrect name and addresses for the children's parents or guardians.
The cards include the children's names, Medicaid identification numbers, dates of birth and the names of their primary care doctors. The statement also made it clear that no social security numbers were released.
Monday's statement acknowledged for the first time that the error violated federal medical confidentiality laws.
Those who received the mismailed cards are being asked to destroy them by shredding or cutting it into small pieces.
For families impacted by the information snafu, a letter will be mailed to the responsible adult of each child explaining the steps DHHS is taking to issue new Medicaid ID numbers and cards to those affected recipients. New cards will be re-mailed within the next three weeks. Until a new Medicaid ID card is issued, Medicaid eligible children impacted by this incident may continue to access medical services by using their NC Health Choice ID number or card.
An external investigation is also being conducted to insure that this type of situation never happens again.
If affected individuals are concerned about credit fraud, they may contact any of the following credit bureaus to ask that a fraud alert be placed on their account:
If parents or responsible adults of affected card holders have any questions or concerns about this matter, they can contact the DHHS Customer Service Center 1-800-662-7030 during normal business hours.
Copyright 2014 WECT. All rights reserved. The AP contributed to this story.