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Cautiously holding their fingers to the wind most politicians avoid controversies like the plague – but State Auditor Beth Wood, a farm girl who put herself through East Carolina University, has a trait that’s all but extinct in politics: Grit.
Last year, after Wood audited the state’s new Medicaid Processing Computer System, she blistered fellow Democrat Beverly Perdue, saying Perdue had turned a $250 million project into a $500 million boondoggle that was two years behind schedule and hadn’t processed a single Medicaid claim.
Last week, she held a press conference with Governor McCrory, reporting her latest audit: This time she’d found the State Medicaid Department had spent $1.4 billion more than its budget over the last three years and has overhead costs that are $180,000 higher than the same costs in other states our size.
A long trail of wreckage (beginning with the benign neglect of Governor Mike Easley and compounded by Governor Perdue’s decision to appoint a lobbyist head of the Department of Health and Human Services) winds back across a decade to those two audits.
Lanier Cansler, the lobbyist, served as a Republican legislator from Asheville in the 1990’s, then, in 2001, Governor Easley appointed him Deputy Secretary of the DHHS; a couple of years later Cansler left government to become a lobbyist and one of his first clients was a company bidding for the biggest contract in state government – the State Medicaid Claims Processing Contract.
Cansler’s client won the contract but the new computer system never got off the drawing board – two years later (and twenty million dollars poorer) the state cancelled it. Then Cansler began to lobby for another company that was bidding to get the next version of the same contract and succeeded again. The state awarded his client the $250 million contract.
Then Governor Perdue appointed Cansler head of the DHHS and three years later, when Wood did her first audit, Cansler’s former client was two years behind schedule and $200 million over budget – which Cansler explained to legislators by saying, Yes, there was a problem – but on the other hand the federal government was paying 90% of the costs so the problem wasn’t as bad as it seems.
For years, Cansler had also praised another DHHS project, Community Care of North Carolina, calling it a paradigm of efficiency and a money saver. But, according to Wood’s latest audit, that was another illusion: She reported, “North Carolina’s Medicaid cost per eligible (person) is higher than any other state in Region IV and is higher than the national average. The question should arise, if Community Care of North Carolina saves significantly on Medicaid expenditures, why does North Carolina spend so much more on Medicaid than comparable states?”
Now Governor Pat McCrory has to figure out how to plug a $1.4 billion three-year old hole in the Medicaid budget, and figure out how to do the impossible: Turn a brother-in-law contract into an overnight success.


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3 comments on “A Poster Child for Ineptitude

  1. dap916 says:

    What you’ve told us here, Carter, is excellent and it’s wonderful that we’re reading it. Of course, we’d never, ever see anything like what you said from any of the media sources in North Carolina. It’s just too telling. It’s just too negative against the liberal/democrat faction in our state.

    When I read what you said, it made me think about just how big a job…how tough a job…republicans would have trying to turn around the humongous debt the democrats/Obama have strapped our country with if they did, in fact, get back in power. It would be an almost insurmountable task. We’ve gone just so far into debt and have created such a monster within our federal government that it would take actions that would most certainly cause riots in the street to correct it all. We’ve spoiled just so many citizens. Taking away long-term unemployment and free medical care for people that are satisfied to live in the severe lower class and removing the housing subsidities for these folks and charging ALL of our citizens with paying taxes and with ending the cycle of welfare from generation to generation will mean many will have to suffer…many will have to actually put forth effort and many will have to learn to live without phones and TV and eating meals out and so forth. Look at how many periods in our country that many had to suffer. All of the money the very rich in America has wouldn’t even begin to help our people if ALL of it was taken from them…so the argument that the rich people should pay for others to be better off is ludicrous.

    We have a budget hole in North Carolina. I’m proud of McCrory and the republicans for taking the stance they’re taking to solve it. Democrats will fight against it…and that’s to be expected. But, hopefully, in the end, “our side” will win out.

  2. clarence swinney says:

    Important repeat
    10 page report summation follows:
    “Today, a group of 80 CEOs are lecturing Congress about the need to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, while lowering tax rates for millionaires, billionaires, and the largest corporations in America.

    These are some of the same CEOs who head corporations that:
    received a total taxpayer bailout of more than $2500 Billion from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department and nearly caused the economy to collapse four years ago.
    That outsourced hundreds of thousands of American jobs to China and other low wage countries, forcing their workers to receive unemployment insurance and other federal benefits.
    That avoided at least $34.5 Billion in taxes by setting up more than 600 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and other offshore tax havens since 2008; and a dozen of these companies paid no corporate income taxes in at least one year since 2008, while receiving $6.4 Billion in tax refunds from the IRS, after making billions in profits.

    In other words, these are some of the same people who have significantly caused the deficit to explode over the last four years.
    The following are just a few examples of how the corporations these CEOs work for have significantly harmed our economy and federal budget.”
    AWESOME REPORT GET IT—18 firms avoided 34.5B in taxes-example—Bank of America-
    In 2010–$4.4B profits-$1.9B Refund. Paid 0—In bailout, got $1345B in loans from government.
    Almost interest free loans—371 offshore tax havens–

  3. dap916 says:

    Okay…let’s get this out there for anyone/everyone that actually reads the front page here on TAP. Info on our boy here Clarence Swinney: Now, sadly, TAP hasn’t figured out how to allow people to post a “clickable link” on their front page, so what you’ll have to do here is to “copy” the link I’m presenting here and then “paste” it onto your browser line at the top of the page then click “enter”. Not sure why TAP can’t have “real time” postings of messages posted on TAP or “clickable links” on the front page when they do have that on their “Forum” here. Odd….

    One thing about Swinney’s post here. Check out which political party was in control in the U.S. legislature when most of the great economic years happened under Clinton. That gets lost a LOT by folks like our guy Swinney here.

    Here’s the link to copy then paste onto your browser:×8032

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