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Opening Remarks by Secretary Aldona Wos at the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee


Raleigh, North Carolina
Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.

It is again an honor to be here today - indeed, it is a privilege as we work together to serve all the citizens of our remarkable state of North Carolina.

Since our last meeting in October, we have continued to move forward. And we are moving forward.

In October, I told you that we are bringing a vision of improved mental health services, reform to Medicaid, and a restructured department to increase efficiency.

Since that time, the administration announced the Medicaid Advisory Group. It is a strong and diverse committee of three industry experts and two legislators who are members of this committee and committed to helping move this state toward the goal of reform... it will serve as another vehicle to bring stakeholders to the table and collaborate with the Department.

And as I mentioned here in front of the General Assembly last month, I instructed Dave Richard, our Director for the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services, to establish a new path forward to improve our crisis and prevention services.

I am proud to announce that we already rolled out a critical initiative to improve the mental health system here in our state.

We know that currently, too many individuals and families are suffering with mental health and substance abuse issues... and are floating in and out of care... and crisis... in our state's emergency departments and jails. That is not acceptable.

This initiative marks a new focused strategy. We will leverage what exists and already works in our communities. We must work together, if we want to make a substantial difference.

Throughout this process, it is critical that our decisions are data driven. Using data to validate our decisions and to measure our progress is the only way we can achieve our shared vision of a better mental health system in North Carolina. We will be able to benchmark our progress as a state, and see if we need to change course or identify new strategies. Our actions are consequential. We must have a meaningful impact.

This initiative is already bringing stakeholders together and focuses our resources on what we know works. We can improve care while reducing the burden on law enforcement and hospitals... and help get people the proper treatment.

You will hear today - and we welcome your questions and your ideas - about a variety of issues, including how we continue to demand and make improvements in our critical technology systems.

For NC TRACKS, I continue to stress to our team, and our vendor, that we must get providers paid for the work they do. You will see today that we continued to make progress in this area.

I also continue to have serious concerns that we are still struggling to get complete and accurate data regarding elements that impact areas including:

  • category of service,
  • pending claims, and
  • program integrity.

We are forcefully addressing these issues, and although progress is being made, we will not rest until all issues are resolved. I assure you, that where necessary, I will hold people accountable.

Mr. Chairman, we are ready to begin our presentation. For today's meeting, I would like you to hear directly from our team. So during our presentation, and with your permission, the appropriate representatives from the Department will be speaking about their specific topics.

Thank you.


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