Joe Cooper, NC DHHS chief information officer, felt the need to defend his agency-under-seige this week in a N+O op-ed. The reason? Many health providers just aren’t getting paid under the Medicaid program as DHHS has switched to a new payment system called NC Tracks. Cooper was hired at $175,000/yr from the private sector by DHHS Secretary Wos and has boasted in op-eds that ““When it goes live, our NCTracks [Medicaid payment system] will be a national leader.”
Now he’s singing a different tune and trying to explain how he is fixing everything when another expensive private sector consultant he hired this year assured him (in the words of a DHHS press release): “Replacement Medicaid Computer System on Track, Outside Consultant Tells DHHS.”
Cooper wasn’t satisfied with a litany of how he is trying to fix all the problems with this system he was calling a “national leader” two months ago. He had to go one step over the line yesterday and tried to put the blame for his department’s incompetence on the Affordable Care Act: “However, because of the federal mandates and the October Affordable Care Act deadline, North Carolina had no choice but to speed up its implementation.”
Joe – The Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010. That’s more than three years ago. It might also be helpful to remember Governor Pat McCrory signed the law rejecting Medicaid expansion in NC on March 3, 2013. The law McCrory signed also sent back $74 million dollars in federal grants NC had literally sitting in the bank of which millions were allocated to improve our computer eligibility systems. From Kaiser: “In January 2013, North Carolina was awarded a second Level One grant of $74 million to develop an IPA program and support implementation of the HCR Module, including integration of the module with current state IT systems and federal data sources.”
So, look close to home. You said it would be great. You screwed up. Your boss and the General Assembly sent back millions of dollars we could be using to help. Let’s fix it, but don’t you dare lay blame on a three-year old law when the reasons for this are much closer to home.