The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services released a cheerful video this afternoon touting the supposed successes of the state’s new Medicaid billing system that delayed payments for thousands of medical providers for months over the last year.
The nearly 4-minute video produced by state employees includes interviews set to upbeat instrumental music with several providers and DHHS officials talking about how well the complicated Medicaid billing system is working one year after its bungled July 1, 2013 launch.
Much of the system is working now, and providers are getting paid faster than before, DHHS officials say in the video.
N.C Tracks  replaced the state’s previous 25-year-old Medicaid system and came online despite warnings in a May 2013 performance audit  from the state auditor’s office that DHHS hadn’t fully tested the system, left too much up to vendors’ discretion and had no way of knowing ahead of time if the system was ready.
The billing problems have left legislative fiscal research staff without firm budget numbers on the $13 billion program, a major point of contention  in the current budget negotiations for Republican state Senate leaders.
Missing from DHHS’ birthday video were some of the choicer statements doctors, lawmakers and others have had about new system and its rollout last year under N.C. DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos.
Here’s a few of the less-than-glowing comments:
- “NCTracks has made billing go from complex to borderline impossible,” said Sandra Williams, chief financial officer of Cape Fear Valley Health System, at an October legislative hearing. 
- “NCTracks was a disaster, and the State was beyond the point of no return,” lawyers wrote in a lawsuit filed by medical providers  in January against the state agency.
- “We are pretty much in the dark with trying to figure out where we are in the current year,” said Susan Jacobs, a fiscal analyst for the legislature in January about getting budget data from N.C. Tracks.
- “It’s June 19 and we still don’t have the numbers,” Sen. Tom Apodoca, a Hendersonville Republican, said in a hearing earlier this month about Medicaid budget information, according to the News & Observer . “If push comes to shove, we can always issue subpoenas.”
- “We are having to manually key claims and do things that before would pay automatically,” Laura Williard of High Point’s Advanced Home Care told WNCN in early June . “At one point, I had 11 temps working for our company to do something that was paid automatically before.”