Politics & Government
5:00 am
Wed February 12, 2014

DHHS Gaffe Could Cost State Millions

NC Department of Health and Human Services logo
Credit NC Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services’ failure to notify lawmakers about a Medicaid waiver earlier this year could cost the state at least ten million dollars.

Back in August, North Carolina’s former Medicaid director, Carol Steckel, formally requested a three-month waiver from the federal government to postpone the new process for renewing coverage for Medicaid patients.

But lawmakers had already passed a state budget in July that explicitly stated health officials couldn’t ask for such waivers without legislative permission. No one from DHHS notified the General Assembly until recently.

"For God's sakes, please learn how to communicate. Don't do this 'let's ask forgiveness don't ask for permission' kind of approach. We could have handled this in a much more adult way." -Marilyn Avila

Republican Representative Marilyn Avila told DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos her staff should’ve informed lawmakers as soon as they knew they intended to apply for the waiver.

"For God’s sakes, please learn how to communicate. Don’t do this 'let’s ask forgiveness don’t ask for permission' kind of approach. We could have handled this in a much more adult way," said Avila.

The mistake means the state may have to continue paying for Medicaid coverage for people who are no longer eligible under the new rules.