NWA IT Conference: The Future of WIC is Now

Deltek Analyst Kate Tussey reports.

Deltek attended the 2011 National Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Association’s (NWA) Technology Conference September 21-23, in Pittsburgh, Pa. For those not familiar with the conference, it’s held every two years and provides an opportunity to network, learn, and share technological directions for WIC’s future with industry leaders. Topics this year included WIC management information system (WIC MIS) enhancements; improving WIC service delivery; the latest information on electronic benefit transfer (EBT) technology; and quality data collection and information security.

After attending the Medicaid management information system (MMIS) Conference earlier this year, and as an analyst researching health care reform, health insurance exchanges (HIXs) and health information exchanges (HIEs) on a daily basis, I was surprised and somewhat critical of the dire picture the WIC program painted itself in at the NWA IT Conference. Many of the presentations surrounded the new WIC EBT mandate for 2020 and how states are struggling to juggle requirements to implement in time. I wondered how they could say all of this knowing that next door in the Departments of Health and Insurance, they have to implement brand new HIXs, eligibility systems, and MMIS upgrades by 2014. Those departments would be overjoyed if they could add another six years to the development process. Another issue I had was that each state already has EBT technology employed through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). To me, this means the technology already exists, and shouldn’t be a foreign concept to WIC programs.

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