Raleigh, N.C. — 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."