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A state legislative committee is looking into the situation in the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services this morning, where embattled Secretary Aldona Wos continues to hang on and adhere to her controversial plan to privatize Medicaid, the state’s health insurance system for poor people.

Throughout her first year in office, Wos and her boss, Gov. McCrory, have repeatedly claimed that Medicaid is “broken” and that spending in the program is “out of control.” This new chart highlighted at today’s hearing, however, makes clear that Wos and McCrory may have some backtracking to do with respect to these claims (Note that the red line is the national trend and the blue is North Carolina’s. “PMPM” means “per member, per month.”):Medicaid spending

 

DHHS-Aldona-Wos-2014-01-14

The head of the embattled N.C. Department of Health and Human Services will appear before legislators this morning to answer more questions about the agency’s most recent mishaps.

Aldona Wos, a Greensboro physician and wealthy Republican fundraiser, is expected to address the mailing of nearly 49,000 children’s Medicaid cards with private medical information to the wrong addresses as well as the recent disclosure that the U.S. Department of Agriculture may penalize the state for the bungled food stamps delivery program.

Gov. Pat McCrory has reiterated his support for Wos, telling media that Wos took over a department that had been in disarray under Democrats.

DHHS records show that the agency’s backlog has seen an uptick, with more than 30,000 households in December unable to access their food stamps vouchers.

Audio from today’s 10 a.m. hearing can be heard here, or Raleigh television station WRAL will live-stream today’s meeting here.

You can also follow me, Sarah Ovaska, on Twitter at @SarahOvaska.

 

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is trying to clean up the mess created when nearly 50,000 Medicaid cards with children’s personal health information was sent out to the wrong households.

The agency admitted that the mistaken mailings violated federal  medical privacy laws and were a result of human error.

HHS Secretary Aldona Wos informed the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services about the release of private medical information.

Following press inquiries, the agency acknowledged  Friday evening the mailings went out to the wrong household, three days after DHHS staff first learned of the issues.

On Monday, Medicaid Interim Director Sandra Terrell released a statement indicating that after an initial review, the state agency believes human error was at fault while moving data from the N.C. Health Choice system to Medicaid.   Read More

Alex Kotch(Cross-posted from the website Vocativ.com)

Obamacare is actually good. No, really

By Alex Kotch

I’m a low-income PhD student with a shaky health history and limited earning capacity. The Affordable Care Act should improve my quality of life. But will it?

This isn’t the answer you tend to hear on the news, but yeah, it will. Dramatically.

Here’s my background. I’m a 30-year-old, soon-to-be PhD graduate with an expected income in 2014, the first year of Obamacare, not much above the minimum wage. My $190-a-month student health plan runs out the day Obamacare starts. I’m a nonsmoker, but I have had some serious health issues in the past. In the eyes of health insurers, I’m hardly a solid bet. So Obamacare should, if it’s fit for purpose, help me out of a bind when I go to change my plan. Let’s see if that holds up. Read More

Art Pope 3The North Carolina NAACP and other activist groups will commence a series of informational pickets today to shine more light on the rather amazing breadth and depth of the influence of state budget director, Art Pope. The pickets will take place today at 4:00 p.m. outside two of the chain stores owned by Pope’s Variety Wholesalers, Maxway and Rose’s.

The Maxway event will take place at 1905 Poole Rd. in Raleigh. The Rose’s event will take place  at University Mall, 201-C36 Estes Dr. Chapel Hill.

According to an announcement:

“The informational picket campaign is a statewide effort to raise awareness and demand that Budget Director Pope call for a reversal of extremist laws and policies passed in the 2013 Legislative Session and support the request for a Special Redemption Session of the North Carolina General Assembly to reverse course on two extremist policies, the denial of Medicaid and emergency unemployment benefits that will harm the most vulnerable members of our state.”

Learn more at the event’s Facebook page by clicking here.