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Not to long ago State Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Carmen Hooker-Odom claimed she was going to save taxpayers millions by hiring a new computer vender to process the state’s Medicare claims.

Today the new vender is a year behind schedule, the system is not in place, the state is in a contract dispute with the vender, and instead of saving taxpayers money Mrs. Hooker-Odom has cost them millions.

Now, the News and Observer (8-19-06) reports Mrs. Hooker-Odom’s Department has mishandled $151 million in Medicaid claims – which have to be repaid to the federal government. A good chunk of the money will come from taxpayers.

That’s nearly $200 million in miscues by Mrs. Hooker-Odom’s department but, of course, ‘the buck’ doesn’t stop with her. It stops with Governor Easley. You’d expect $200 million in problems at his Department of Health and Human Services would get the Governor’s attention. Unfortunately, the status quo seems to suit Governor Easley just fine.

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