The ridiculously simple solution to NC's Medicaid problem

Fire Wos.

It's abundantly clear that Queen Aldona is the problem.

Both Hise and Dollar also said that the Department of Health and Human Resources sorely needs experienced Medicaid officials to manage a complicated program that provides care to 1.7 million North Carolinians: the blind, disabled, elderly and poor children and their parents.

To which North Carolinians respond "DUH!"

Yet the thoroughly incompetent Aldona does just the opposite, surrounding herself with people who have no such experience. To top it off, she pays them ridiculously inflated fees using our taxpayer dollars [emphasis mine]

Meanwhile, the department recently doubled the value of its one-year contract with Alvarez & Marsal, a D.C.-area consulting firm, from $3.25 million to $6.8 million. The Alvarez & Marsal principals on the contract list no Medicaid experience on their resumes.
A vice president at the company owned by Wos’ husband, Hauck was working under a no-bid $310,000 annual contract. Neither [Aldona's Chief of Staff] Payne nor Hauck list any Medicaid experience on their resumes.

So why wouldn't Wos hire someone with experience? Well, she did -- and then she proceeded to run that person out of town on a rail.

Micromanagement by Secretary Aldona Wos helped lead to the departure of Medicaid Director Carol Steckel, whose post then stayed vacant for seven months.

Wos, appointed by McCrory, hired Steckel amid great fanfare in January 2013, saying how “pleased” she was with Steckel’s “energy, enthusiasm and considerable talent.” Steckel came to North Carolina with 27 years of Medicaid experience and was paid an annual salary of $210,000.

According to DHHS emails, seven months later Wos muzzled Steckel, saying she could not attend any meetings or give public speeches out of the presence of minders from the secretary’s office.

“One day, out of nowhere, the secretary let loose on Carol,” Brennan said in an interview. “She just jumped all over her. ... It just got worse and worse.”

Brennan described several of the weekly Medicaid update meetings called by Wos.

“If Carol tried answering a question, she was told to shut up,” he said. “Yet anyone else at the meeting could answer questions.”

Major decisions at the department boiled down to one thing, Brennan said: “Nobody was allowed to do anything without the permission of the secretary.”

Attention Ralph Hise, Pat McCrory, Governor Pope, Tillisberger and NCGA DHHS Oversight Committee: the solution to NC's Medicaid problem is ridiculously simple.

Fire Wos.


Wos responds


Wos was not available to be interviewed for this article, according to DHHS Marketing Director Aaron Mullins.

She never is.

At $1 per year, she's even more overpaid than her consultants.

"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

Wos your mouth out with soap!

Really good stuff at the end of that N&O story. Not sure why they buried it below so many paragraphs of Hise & Dollar P.R.

Right you are

As one of North Carolina's leading journalists, you know the story when you see it.

Neff does, too. Wonder if an editor changed the focus, which should have been "Investigation shows Wos is out of control and maybe unstable, and by the way the Senate and House are closer on a new Medicaid system", not the other way around.

"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

Not only did the N&O publish the wrong story

they also got the story wrong. Besides hyping the supposed hugs and sparkleponies between the House and Senate regarding their Medicaid plans and burying the real story, which is that Hurricane Aldona has destroyed the NC Medicaid program, it turns out that the hugs and sparkleponies were premature.

A new Senate plan to overhaul the state’s Medicaid program drew immediate fire from doctors and hospitals who do not like that the proposal would open the state to commercial managed care for people using the government insurance.

Yeah, once people actually looked at the Senate plan, they discovered it is a disaster and it isn't really much like the House plan, which was drawn up over the past year and a half with the participation of medical care providers (recall that Pat & Aldona's first trial balloon was universally panned by hospitals and doctors, so they spent months coming up with something that, apparently, everyone can live with. That's reflected in the House plan).

Demonstrating the "even a stopped clock is right twice a day" principle, DAG McCrony got something right:

In a statement, McCrory said, “the Senate’s proposed bureaucratic reorganization is impractical and undermines the progress that has been made during the past year and a half. This legislative overreach also raises some serious constitutional issues and should not be raised in the closing days of the short session.”

And demonstrating the disturbing trend of the NC GOP to start up a new commission in conjunction with most every law they pass (see coal ash), that's what our State Wildflower and State Frog want to do:

The Senate would also take control of the Medicaid program from the state Department of Health and Human Services and give it to a new Department of Medical Benefits that would be run by a paid board of directors. The Medicaid director would work for the board.

The board would be weighted toward members with corporate experience but exclude providers or people employed by hospitals or universities. That provision drew criticism from Democratic senators and the Medical Society lobbyist.

What the N&O didn't print was that each one of those directors would be paid $12,000 per month. That's $96,000 per year. To do a job that we already pay people to do. And those people wouldn't have any medical care experience, they would be appointed political cronies who moonlight as corporate bean counters.

Just when you think the NC House has reached the far fringes on wing nut extremism, the NC Senate steps in to show that the fringe can stretch even further.

"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014