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NC TRACKS audit draws criticism from NC Democrats

From Twitter:

NC Senate Democrats ‏@NCSenateDems

Unacceptable MT "@binker: State Auditor says DHHS "ill equipped" to handle NC Tracks problems: http://ow.ly/rBCfq #ncga #npol"

Audit: DHHS ill-equipped to handle troubles with Medicaid billing system

[DHHS Sec. Aldona] Wos disputed that DHHS has no plan for tracking problems with NCTracks and their resolution. "The department has been managing NCTracks defects efficiently since go-live. Formal target response times are in place and defect metrics have been tracked," she wrote.

Auditors said, however, that her response is "misleading," noting that DHHS has no documentation of how it has handled defects.

Bob Seligson, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the North Carolina Medical Society, said the audit "confirms our worst fears about NCTracks."

Crisis Solutions Initiative Coalition

Earlier this month, Gov. Pat McCrory and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos announced a new initiative to improve mental health and substance abuse crisis services in North Carolina. The Governor and Secretary Wos have invited mental health care professionals, hospital administrators, members of law enforcement, and patient advocates to join them on December 9 for the first meeting of the Crisis Solutions Initiative Coalition.

The primary goal of the Crisis Solutions Initiative is to address the tremendous strain on the current mental health and substance abuse crisis system. High levels of emergency department usage, extended wait times in emergency departments, increased incidence of mental illness in jails and prisons – all of these contribute to higher costs – and just as important, they don’t get the job done.

WRAL records review of NC FAST snafus

A WRAL News review of thousands of pages of emails and other public records shows that for more than a month starting July 15, counties across the state struggled with a buggy, sluggish system that frequently froze up and prevented workers from keying in cases. By the time the NC FAST team identified the problem as a simple browser compatibility issue in late August, almost 70,000 food stamp customers statewide – many of them families with children – were waiting on overdue benefits, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

That's 8.5 percent of the number of clients the state currently serves every month.

USA Today: Should 11 Million mentally ill persons be locked up?

Should 11 Million Mentally Ill Be Locked Up?
Our View: The Editorial Board, USA TODAY September 26, 2013

The awful mass killings this month by a delusional shooter at Washington's Navy Yard provoked familiar demands to fix the nation's mental health system. Polls show most Americans believe shoring up the system could help stop the carnage.

If only it were that simple.

Rep. Renee Ellmers on MSNBC Thursday

NC's own Renee Ellmers on MSNBC tonight:

Rep. Renee Ellmers ‏@RepReneeEllmers

WATCH @AllinwithChris on MSNBC at 8 pm. I'll discuss #Obamacare and @RepublicanStudy American Health Care Reform Act. http://tv.msnbc.com/shows/all-in/

UPDATE from MSNBC:

Thursday night on All In with Chris Hayes: House Republicans are holding America’s economic future hostage, and now they have written a ransom note with their demands. According to a wish list circulating around the capitol, House GOPers want a delay in implementing Obamacare, cuts to public health programs, approval for the Keystone XL pipeline, and a slew of other conservative reforms Democrats are unlikely to embrace, in exchange for a debt ceiling increase.

Save the Guns Law

Cary, N.C. —

A new state law could put guns that have been used in crimes back on the street.

The so-called Save the Guns Law, which went into effect Sept. 1, prohibits North Carolina law enforcement agencies from destroying most of the guns that are seized in criminal investigations or surrendered by owners.

Unless a weapon no longer works or lacks a valid serial number, police departments and sheriff's offices must either donate it to a museum, keep it for training or sell it to a federally licensed gun dealer – even if it was used in a crime.

"I think most victims' families don't want the firearms that have been used to hurt one of their loved ones to then be recirculated back in the community," said Rep. Duane Hall, D-Wake, who voted against the legislation...

--Laurie Leslie, WRAL.com

DHHS: the hits just keep on coming

Group homes caring for those with mental illness and developmental disabilities say that, as of this week, there is still no way for them to tap $4.6 million set aside by lawmakers to ensure certain residents don't have to find new homes.

The money was meant to serve as "bridge funding" for those who no longer qualify for certain services under the state-federal Medicaid program but who have neither the ability nor money to live on their own.

"It's ridiculous," said Elizabeth Scott at Durham County Community Living Programs, who runs seven group homes for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities. She said 23 of her residents are directly affected by the shortfall situation. "There's not a process in place for that money to be disseminated..."

NC State Senate: PPP Polls show many opportunities

North Carolina State Senate Polls Show Many Opportunities for Democrats

New PPP polls in 8 key North Carolina State Senate districts find that the political landscape has shifted in such a way that Democrats have a lot more opportunities to eat into the Republican majority next year than could have ever been imagined even six months ago.

This is a product of three things:

1) The unpopularity of the Republican legislature itself

2) The swift decline in Pat McCrory’s approval numbers even in districts that he won overwhelmingly last year

3) The incumbent Republican state senators in these districts are a combination of unknown and unpopular- none of them have established credibility with their constituents.

Based on our polling we find 2 districts where Democrats have a clear advantage for next year, and another 6 that can be classified as toss ups based on what we’re seeing right now.

McCrory's path forward on Medicaid unclear

New Story by Binker on WRAL.com:

Top officials [at NC DHHS] are about to embark on another "listening tour," according to a set of slides that Sandy Terrell, the Division of Medical Assistance's acting chief operating officer, presented at the North Carolina Institute of Medicines annual conference this month. It's unclear where and to whom the agency will be listening. Also unclear is what Terrell meant when she wrote that there would be "changes within the Division of Medical Assistance."

The Department of Health and Human Services refused a request to make Terrell or anyone else available to talk about pending changes in Medicaid, saying that an announcement was coming.

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