A Closer Look: Medicaid in North Carolina

Wilmington, N.C. (WECT)


A Closer Look: Medicaid in North Carolina
By Justin Smith
October 5, 2014

North Carolina's Secretary of Health and Human Services says after stabilizing the massive department, officials are "finally able to look at the information" needed to consider expanding Medicaid in the state, which initially decided not to grow the program as part of the federal Affordable Care Act.

During an interview with WECT, Dr. Aldona Wos stressed the decision about the low-income health program doesn't rest with her department, explaining there are "many people that will have to come to an agreement about that direction for the state."

The secretary said when she started at HHS 20 months ago, the department suffered from "chronic problems" that wouldn't have allowed for Medicaid expansion.

After getting the department in order, HHS finally has the data it needs to present options to Gov. Pat McCrory regarding possible Medicaid expansion," Wos said, adding that growing the program would have wide-ranging effects.

"Medicaid expansion is not just giving someone an insurance card because the insurance card alone is not going to make anyone healthier," Wos said.

For example, the secretary questions whether county social services departments would be equipped to handle an extra 300,000 or more people in the system.

While HHS is studying Medicaid expansion, some lawmakers want to move the program from the department and put it elsewhere in state government where, they say, it could be better managed.

"I do not see why that would even be entertained," Wos said, explaining the problems plaguing Medicaid are nothing new.

"It doesn't matter where you would put a car if it has a broken engine. . ." she said. "You have to fix the engine to make it work. That's what we've been doing."


Contact: news@dhhs.nc.gov