The Source

November 2, 2013 

Auditor defends review of Medicaid system

State Auditor Beth Wood has offered an expansive defense of her audit of the state Medicaid system, which included the controversial finding that the state spends a higher proportion of its money on administration than comparable states.

Wood met with The (Raleigh) News & Observer editorial board Thursday to talk about her agency’s audits.

A report by the North Carolina Health News in early October found responses to the audit submitted by the state Department of Health and Human Services under the administration of former Gov. Bev Perdue showing that North Carolina’s administrative expenses looked good compared with other states’ when costs of managed care companies working in other states were included.

Wood stuck by her audit, saying that the figures used in her report were official numbers submitted to the federal office that oversees Medicaid. Medicaid experts, including the former head of the Medicare and Medicaid office in Atlanta, determined how the figures should be reported in the audit, she said.

“My findings are irrefutable,” Wood said.

The report on administrative spending that a former DHHS official used to try to counter the audit included unverifiable information on managed care expenses, Wood said.

“Everyone is jumping up and down about this information that somebody pulled out of the sky,” she said.

North Carolina Health News is standing by its report. The (Raleigh) News & Observer

McCrory names two

to Medicaid group

On Friday, Gov. Pat McCrory announced he has appointed two men with experience in hospital administration and the head of a mental health services company to the advisory group that will work on changes to the state’s Medicaid program.

McCrory plans to present a plan for changes to the government insurance program for the poor, elderly and disabled by March 17.

Dennis Barry is former CEO of Moses Cone Health System, a hospital network based in Greensboro. Barry, a former president of the American Hospital Association, retired from the health system in 2004.

Dr. Richard Gilbert is the corporate medical director of American Anesthesiology of the Southeast and a former chief of staff at Carolinas Medical Center. He has an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

Peggy Terhune is executive director and CEO of Monarch, a provider of mental health services.

McCrory’s appointees will join Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Cary Republican who is the chief budget writer in the House, and Sen. Louis Pate, a Republican from Mount Olive. House Speaker Thom Tillis appointed Dollar, and Senate leader Phil Berger appointed Pate. The (Raleigh) News & Observer

Shutdown costs not what Dems claimed

The press release from the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee last week carried a screeching headline: “ Thom Tillis, Mark Harris, Greg Brannon & Heather Grant’s Reckless & Irresponsible Government Shutdown Cost North Carolina’s Economy Up To $340 Million.”

Like its Republican counterpart, the DSCC takes every opportunity to put its opponents in a bad light.

And it’s true that Tillis, Harris, Brannon and Grant – the announced GOP Senate candidates – have said they supported efforts that led to a shutdown. And most if not all opposed this month’s compromise that ended it.

But $340 million? According to John Mousseau of Moody’s Analytics, the real figure is $95 million.

Why the discrepancy?

DSCC spokesman Matt Canter said the larger figure was based on national information provided by Moody’s, based on figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and used by Pew researchers and outlets such as USA Today.

But when the Observer called Moody’s, Mousseau said the shutdown cost North Carolina $95 million. Still a lot of money, certainly, but not $340 million.

Apparently that state information wasn’t available to the DSCC at the time it sent its release, which was reported on at least one North Carolina media site. The DSCC used the best information it had at the time.

“What both numbers show is that the GOP shutdown caused unnecessary damage to North Carolina’s economy and should never have happened,” Canter said. Jim Morrill

Election debates to air on WTVI Sunday

Still trying to decide who to vote for in Tuesday’s Charlotte city and Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board election?

Catch the broadcasts of the League of Women Voters’ debates Sunday afternoon on WTVI, PBS Charlotte. Here’s the schedule:

• 1 p.m., Mayoral debate: Democratic Patrick Cannon and Republican Edwin Peacock.

• 2 p.m., At-large City Council: Democrats Michael Barnes, Claire Fallon, David Howard and Vi Lyles, Republicans Mark Frietch, Ken Harris and Dennis Peterson and Libertarian Eric Cable. (Republican Vanessa Faura did not attend.)

• 3 p.m., City Council Districts 2, 3 and 4.

• 4 p.m., school board districts 2, 4, 5 and 6. Jim Morrill

Educators association endorses bonds

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators has endorsed the bonds for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Central Piedmont Community College on Tuesday’s ballot.

“CMAE believes that supporting the CMS bond package would send a tremendous thank you to the Board Of Education for putting aside partisan differences and focusing on the greater good for all children in CMS. We commend the leadership of Chair Mary McCray and Vice-Chair Tim Morgan during these turbulent times for public education in the state of North Carolina,” says a statement emailed Thursday by CMAE Vice President Erlene Lyde. Before her election to the school board in 2011, McCray was CMAE president. Ann Doss Helms

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