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Originally published: 2013-12-04 13:48:05
Last modified: 2013-12-04 13:48:50

Medicaid reform group to meet

by Anna Oakes

A Medicaid reform advisory group created by the N.C. General Assembly meets for the first time from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, in Raleigh.

The advisory group will collaborate with the Department of Health and Human Services in its development of a detailed plan to reform North Carolina's Medicaid system.

"The public is encouraged to attend the meeting and become involved in improving health care in North Carolina, while controlling escalating Medicaid costs," a meeting announcement stated.

The first meeting will help educate advisory group members on reform models in other states, build consensus on principles of reform and outline options for reform.

DHHS is scheduled to present a reform proposal to the General Assembly no later than March 17, 2014.

Advisory group members include Dennis Barry, CEO emeritus of Cone Health; Peggy Terhune, executive director/CEO of Monarch; Richard Gilbert, chief of staff for Carolinas Medical Center; state Rep. Nelson Dollar; and state Sen. Louis Pate.

The N.C. Medicaid program has existed since 1970 and currently serves approximately 1.7 million low-income parents, children, seniors and people with disabilities, according to DHHS.

In January, a report from Democratic State Auditor Beth Wood identified several problems with the state Medicaid system, including administrative inefficiency, lack of oversight of contracts, lax cost-control and cost-management measures and disjointed accounting practices that have led to inaccurate financial projections.

Wood said the state had exceeded its Medicaid budget by more than $1.4 billion during the past three fiscal years, including $375 million in state funds.

The nonprofit North Carolina Health News reported in October, however, that then-Medicaid director Carol Steckel edited out additional data from the DHHS response to the audit that showed North Carolina's Medicaid administrative expenses were actually below average when compared with other states. Wood's audit used federal numbers on each state's Medicaid administrative costs, but a separate 2012 study referenced by DHHS staff also incorporated the administrative expenses of states' Medicaid contractors, according to the report.

The meeting takes place at The Grill on the Hill at the DHHS/Dorothea Dix campus.

The Medicaid reform advisory group will hold additional meetings during which stakeholders will have the opportunity to publicly comment on the reform process. Public notices will be issued with the dates, times and locations.