LITTLE ROCK — The state Department of Human Services has reduced its backlog of overdue Medicaid eligibility cases to fewer than 700, according to DHS Director Cindy Gillespie.

In a letter to Gov. Asa Hutchinson dated Sunday and released to the news media on Wednesday, Gillespie said that since May, the agency has reduced the backlog from more than 140,000 cases — some of them dating back as far as 2014 — to 692.

“Our goal was to clear the backlog by year’s end, and we have essentially done that,” she said in the letter.

DHS began experiencing a backlog of cases after the launch of the state’s Medicaid expansion program in 2013, which now serves about 300,000 low-income Arkansans. The state is required under federal law to verify the eligibility of all new applicants and to check the eligibility of all participants once a year.

Hutchinson took office in January 2015. Gillespie became DHS director March 1.

Maximus, a company that has helped other states improve their enrollment and eligibility verification systems, has helped the state process cases. E-Systems, a vendor that already was under contract with the agency, has provided computer programmers for the effort, and the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care has provided additional workers at the call center it operates for DHS.

The effort is expected to cost the state $8.4 million, of which the state will pay $2.1 million and the federal government will pay the rest.