Aldona Wos, North Carolina’s embattled Health and Human Services Secretary, was the woman of the hour at a luncheon held Wednesday that included remarks from Gov. Pat McCrory that Wos has been unfairly criticized.
The Greensboro News & Record covered the event sponsored by the Greensboro Partnership, a booster group for city, that honored Wos. A former Greensboro mayor that spoke at the luncheon referred to it as “an old-fashioned love feast.”
A Greensboro physician and wealthy Republican fundraiser, Wos has been a lighting rod in the $1-a-year job she took in January 2013 heading the health and human services agency under McCrory.
At the luncheon Wednesday, McCrory came to Wos’ defense.
“She is fighting battles that you would not believe, while I read the Raleigh and Charlotte newspapers that say she’s overpaid at a dollar a year,” McCrory said, according to the News & Record.
She also received “a crystal sculpture depicting a person who is pushing a big ball uphill,” according to the newspaper.
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Under Wos, DHHS saw the bungled roll-outs of two massive technology systems that caused months-long delays in payments for Medicaid providers and required federal intervention after tens of thousands of struggling North Carolinians went months without emergency food stamps.
Her brusque management style hasn’t gone unnoticed, with high numbers of vacancies in top positions at the agency. A News & Observer article earlier this month found the state’s former Medicaid director Carol Steckel left the high-profile job in large part because of Wos’ micromanaging.
Multiple newspaper editorial boards have called for her resignation, including McCrory’s hometown paper, the Charlotte Observer, that wrote in July that McCrory “needs to fire Wos and recruit and keep experienced and talented staff.”
Top Republican lawmakers have been less than enamored with her as well, with testy hearings held over the last year regarding ongoing problems in the agency. Senate Republicans proposed moving the $13 billion Medicaid program to an entirely new agency and opening it up to privatization. The legislature is expected to return to Raleigh in November to deal with overhauling the state’s Medicaid program.