Berger: Lawmakers will keep tabs on DHHS computer systems

Posted September 4, 2013

— Legislative oversight committees will keep tabs on a pair of troubled computer systems designed to ensure needy families get benefit payments and health providers are paid for care to those families.

"We've got two things called NCTracks and NC FAST over there that aren't on track and aren't fast and are about to kill this state," said Sen. Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe. 

NCTracks is designed to provide payments to doctors, hospitals and other health care providers who work with Medicaid, the state health insurance system for the poor and disabled. Nesbitt, the Senate minority leader. cited reports from providers that they are having problems getting paid under the newly implemented system.

A separate system, NC FAST, is supposed to provide food stamp and other benefit payments to families. There have been reports of problems with that system as well. 

Nesbitt used a floor speech at the end of the state Senate's veto override session to call attention to those problems and take a dig at Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican. 

"Apparently $1.7 million was given in raises to DHHS," he said, referring to media reports about relatively inexperienced staffers getting big pay bumps. "I don't know if those increases were appropriate or not, but if they were, apparently they didn't give them to the right people."

Nesbitt suggested that a department with such troublesome computer systems ought not to be handing out raises. 

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said the legislature would take a look at the computer system problems but did not take the bait on the salary issue.

"Republicans pledge to work with the Democrats to help solve some of the problems you have identified," Berger said. "I don't think anyone thinks it's working as it should or as we hope it will."

Lawmakers will soon appoint committees to work during the legislative interim between now and when lawmakers return to session next May. Those committees, Berger said, would be the proper place for the legislature to exercise its oversight roles.

After the Senate wrapped up work for the day, Berger was asked about the salary issue Nesbitt raised. He said that was something lawmakers likely would not take up.

"I will say that's an executive branch issue as far as I'm concerned," Berger said. "The executive branch does have wide authority and discretion to make determinations about pay levels and hiring and those kinds of things. I'm just not sure it's something that rises to the level of the legislature getting deeply involved in the day-to-day workings."


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  • TooMuchDrama Sep 5, 2013

    They should start asking who is providing the manpower to do all the backlog work for the vendor......why is NC paying a vendor to do a job and then sending over state employees to do it and catch it all up as well? I am sure Beth Wood will have fun digging in to the activities since it went live, lets hope she reports the state dollars for the state staff that is doing the vendor's job.

  • edmarc49 Sep 5, 2013

    I hope they put some fire under DHS and CSC to fix these problems because some providers' offices have closed and others are very close to closing due to the incompetence displayed by CSC. It is a travesty that 600 million in NC tax dollars was paid to CSC for this horrible system that does not pay doctors and providers, does not allow prior authorization for tests and medications,you name it, this system will not do it properly. The State Auditor told the Governor this would happen yet he proceeded anyway. He claims that Medicaid is broken, and it sure is now, due to his decisions. It ran fine before.
    And also..those raises to 24 year old kids need to be terminated and the positions filled by competent people in the field ASAP. For those unprepared people to be in those positions with raises when so much is at stake for people's health based on their decisions is horrendous!

  • HeadsUp Sep 5, 2013

    "When were the contracts for those computer systems put out? In the last 9 months? I do not think so. I suspect it has taken at LEAST a couple of years to get these programs even started, 4 is more like it." -- computer trainer

    Totally true -- the contract was let under Bev Perdue.

    But McCrory was warned the system wasn't ready and had plenty of time to stop it, but didn't. So now it's his problem to fix. If he can.

  • computer trainer Sep 5, 2013

    When were the contracts for those computer systems put out? In the last 9 months? I do not think so. I suspect it has taken at LEAST a couple of years to get these programs even started, 4 is more like it.

  • free2bme Sep 5, 2013

    What a disappointment the NC Republican Legislature has been to the hard working citizens of NC. They continue to focus on hindering instead of helping. They can care less about how much McCrony pays the his campaign kids as seat warmers. They only dwell on oppressing the poor and wiping out the middle class. Those are the only issues of concerns to them. What a disgrace to NC.

  • 12345_here Sep 4, 2013

    Phil Berger probably thinks the Computer Systems have formed their own union

  • HeadsUp Sep 4, 2013

    Bad day for Her Ladyship Wos and Bev II Pat Perdue.

  • hp277 Sep 4, 2013

    I bet Senator Berger would be all over that $1.7 million in raises if the governor was a Democrat. But since McCrory did it, let's just ignore it and hope it goes away.