A Reality Check for NC DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos

Yesterday I spent at a legislative hearing listening to the NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos and her management team get grilled by both Republicans and Democrats on high salaries, severance payments after a month of work that exceed what a teacher makes in a year, and their latest plans to privatize NC’s Medicaid system.

For great a overview, see Clayton Henkel’s summary and Sarah Ovaska’s comprehensive story.  

Also yesterday, Rose Hoban’s NC Health News bombshell story  was released detailing how NC DHHS Medicaid head Carol Steckel (who resigned a couple weeks ago) fundamentally changed the DHHS response to the state auditors critical Medicaid audit earlier this year to leave damaging incorrect information about NC’s Medicaid and Community Care programs uncontested.

At the hearing, Wos announced a new consultant from the managed care industry, Bob Atlas, has been hired at $250 an hour to help DHHS, but his $2,250 presence at the General Assembly yesterday probably didn’t do them any favors. For me, the low point of the meeting was the citation by one of Wos’ management team of the business book From Good to Great as the DHHS bible for hiring and reorganizing. My alternative reading list additions would include Profiles in Courage and Nickel and Dimed, especially since some fo the largest companies featured in From Good to Great either went bankrupt (Circuit City) or required billions in federal bailouts (Wells Fargo, Fannie Mae). 

For me the day boiled down to this. The people in charge of our biggest and most important agency, running government programs that affect our poorest and most vulnerable people the most profound ways, have seriously lost their way. They have no respect from the health care providers that do the hard work of caring for our disabled, elderly and children. They see $250 an hour managed care consultants as a “reasonable expense.” And they describe the work of overpaid 24 year old spokespeople making $85,000 a year as “monumental” for the state of North Carolina. A reality check is clearly needed.

9 Comments

  1. Betty S Bruton

    October 9, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Why hasn’t Gov. McCrory asked for Ms. Wos’s resignation. It appears she doesn’t know what she is doing. The Gov. tell us he is saving the state money–he should prove this statement.

  2. Gene Hoglan

    October 9, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    Sucks falsifying audits is only a class 1 misdemeanor. Now if we were playing by SOX rules where it carries a 10 year prison sentence, that’d be more than fair.

  3. L.B.

    October 10, 2013 at 6:57 am

    The problem is Wos doesn’t think the staff already working at DHHS is competent and she hires people that share her ideology, but with no relevant government experience. Perhaps if she listened to her seasoned employees instead of thinking they are all “seat warmers”, she wouldn’t be in this mess.

  4. Frances Jenkins

    October 10, 2013 at 8:22 am

    What if Rose has incorrectly reported the information because of her lack of understanding numbers?

  5. ML

    October 10, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Thanks Frances, sarcasm noted. I’d like to see that narrative played out by Woser

  6. wncgirl

    October 10, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    She needs to resign… incompetent is too weak a word.

  7. LayintheSmakDown

    October 10, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    Considering the garbage dump she picked up with that well deserved adverse audit report on the prior regime, she seems to be doing fairly well. I direct you to jlp75 who in such wise words in April related that in government entities this large and that were in such a poor state, results will take time.

  8. Frances Jenkins

    October 11, 2013 at 7:04 am

    As it turns out, according the Ms. Woods, the auditor stands by her conclusions numbers were not changed. Rose did not understand the numbers or the report. Who will send a note to Wos saying they were wrong to jump on the wagon? The public trust is based on the truth, Chris, Gary, Martin, Adam. The truth is more important than politics.

  9. McCookie Monster

    October 21, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Yes, let’s speak the truth about the audits. Wos went live with a system that (according to a 2013 Woods audit) had major issues that should have prevented it from going live. Woods stood behind those audit findings, too. While the system was built under the watch of two administrations, the go-live decision and failure to address the audit’s go-live/launch concerns are the responsibilities of the current administration. Now providers, recipients, and taxpayers are suffering because of this administration’s decision to plow ahead with a system that cannot do what they ensured folks it was ready to do.