|Caucus: Dump N.C. human services chief|
|Lawmakers call on McCrory to fire Wos|
|Published Friday, January 10, 2014 4:04 pm|
Members of the N.C. Legislative Black Caucus are demanding the resignation of state Department of Health and Human Services Director Alana Wos for what they call “gross inconsistencies” and “inefficiencies” in how the department is managed.
Five members of the caucus from Charlotte – Reps. Kelly Alexander Jr., Beverly Earle, Carla Cunningham and Rodney Moore and Sen. Malcolm Graham – held a press conference today at the Mecklenburg County Health Department to urge Gov. Pat McCrory to remove Wos (pronounced Vosh), who has been embroiled in a series of missteps at DHHS since she took over a year ago.
“This is an issue for all North Carolinians, whatever their political hue,” Moore said. “Everybody is suffering – from non-access to health care to unemployment (insurance) being cut to not being able to find a job in this so-called 21st century economy.”
McCrory and his fellow Republicans defend Wos, a top fundraiser for his gubernatorial campaign, as a capable administrator fixing problems created by previous administrations. The caucus, which uncovered a Dec. 11 letter from the U.S. Department of Agriculture warning state officials of possible sanctions for failing to fix problems with food stamp applications, disagree.
“I have never in my 19 years, going on 20, have I seen so many missteps,” said Earle, a member of the House oversight committee for DHHS. “There’s been ongoing issues since this secretary has been in place.”
The agency has been criticized for its mishandling of the food stamp program. Its $48 million online application program, NC FAST, malfunctioned, leaving long waits as people transitioned into the system. Without access to food vouchers, poor families were left to find assistance at pantries and other nonprofits.
“I say it is not fast enough,” Cunningham said.
“We want to assure you that we will continue to implement corrective actions to resolve the concerns raised in your most recent letter,” Wos wrote USDA in a Dec. 23 response. “We trust these corrective actions demonstrate our commitment to ensure that we comply with statutory requirements.”
Last week the agency confirmed it sent more than 48,000 Medicaid cards with private health information the wrong addresses. Another state program, NC TRACK, suffered bottlenecks that resulted in health care providers not being paid in a timely manner.
NC TRACK was derailed, impacting the economic status of numerous health care providers,” Cunningham said.
Wos has taken heat for the hiring of top officials on lucrative personal services contracts, one of them an employee of her husband’s company. Her department hired Ricky Diaz, a former McCrory campaign official, as DHHS spokesman and gave him a $23,000 raise to $85,000 per year.
As Wos’ boss, McCrory is responsible for DHHS, which is why the lawmakers want change.
“When it comes to leadership, sometimes doing what’s right is not popular and sometimes doing what’s popular is not right,” said Graham, who was a member of Charlotte City Council for five years with McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor. “The governor needs to decide for himself whether or not he wants to do what’s right for the people of North Carolina, even if it’s not popular with people in his own party.”
Said Earle: “The governor has been consistent. He has not accepted responsibility for anything that has taken place since he has been governor.”
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