DHHS mailed nearly 49,000 Medicaid cards to wrong people

Posted January 3, 2014
Updated January 4, 2014

N.C. Department of Health and Human Services

— The state Department of Health and Human Services mailed nearly 49,000 Medicaid cards to the wrong people, the agency announced Friday evening. The cards show the child's name, Medicaid ID number, date of birth and primary care physician.

DHHS was trying to issue new cards to 70,253 children who were switched from the N.C. Health Choice program to Medicaid due to new eligibility rules. But more than half of the cards – 48,752 – went to the wrong Medicaid recipients.

The agency became aware of the problem Thursday after a county Department of Social Services reported that clients had received the wrong cards, according to DHHS spokesman Ricky Diaz.

However, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported that DHHS first learned of the problem Tuesday and alerted the media at 5:21 p.m. Friday, about 30 minutes after WSOC-TV in Charlotte posted a story about the error.

"The Department has begun a careful review of this incident to determine how it occurred and to ensure personal information is protected," DHHS acting Medicaid director Sandra Terrell said a statement. "DHHS knows exactly which Medicaid cards were sent to which addresses, and is rapidly working to issue correct Medicaid cards."

The card mix-up will not affect the children's Medicaid coverage or benefits, DHHS said. Children who need services and don't have a correct Medicaid ID card can use their NC Health Choice ID number or card, which is still valid. Providers are also able to verify eligibility in order to deliver services.

"Medicaid recipients will be issued new Medicaid cards with new Medicaid ID numbers," Terrell said in a statement. "In addition, the Medicaid Division will flag the affected Medicaid ID cards within DHHS' computer systems to treat them with extra scrutiny and caution." 

The mistakenly sent Medicaid cards will be invalid, DHHS said. 

Staff at the Department of Health and Human Services were working through the weekend to review the incident and to identify if any HIPAA laws were violated, the statement said. 

Anyone with questions should call the DHHS Customer Service Center Number on the back of their Medicaid card: 1-800-662-7030. The phone line is staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.


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  • Atheistinafoxhole Jan 6, 2014

    "There were problems in that agency even when Bev was in office.

    There have been problems there for years and years.

    Odd, but I don't remember the GOP campaigning in 2012 on the message, "we'll be just like the Democrats." In fact, I'm sure they said they would not only be different, but better. We're still waiting...

  • floydthebarber Jan 6, 2014

    Totally agree with you, HeadsUp. McCrory appointed political friends like Wos and those 20-somethings paid $80k salaries in DHHS, and ever since NC citizens have suffered. Erroneous Medicaid and SNAP benefits dispensing, delayed payments to providers, 50,000 kids' PRIVATE health information mailed to the wrong people... what astounding incompetence. Democrats need to win what they can back in 2014 to start fixing this mess.

  • HeadsUp Jan 6, 2014

    Pat McCrory had the opportunity to hire a first rate administrator as his DHHS Secretary. Instead, he chose a rich political patron with no real management experience or skills, and she has produced one fiasco after another.

    Idunna Wos is smart but a horrible fit for that job, and she is dragging down McCrory and the rest of his administration.

    Enough, Governor. True leadership requires hard choices. For the good of the taxpayers of North Carolina, find a competent, experienced manager to replace Wos, make the change, and move on.

    Or go down with her as a loyal fool.

  • superman Jan 6, 2014

    Wos is helpless. She hired consultants and wasted several million dollars so they could give her advice and tell her what to do. The governor gave you a GPS so she could find her way to work everyday.

  • 42_wral_mods_suck_i'm_gone Jan 6, 2014

    McCrory will expand medicaid in 2015. You heard it here first. He'll need to moderate to win a second term. Hope you teahadist run a 3rd party candidate.

  • Come On_Seriously Jan 6, 2014

    "I hope the Governor replaces all of them with people who know how to get the job done..."

    You mean like the Wos trainwreck? She's been the single biggest government failure in the last 50 years, and was appointed by McCrory because she gave lots of money to his campaign. She has then turned around and made the most questionable and wasteful crony-hires in the entire state govt.

  • TP4Real Jan 6, 2014

    Republicans have been right all along! Government IS broken. And we're proving it. It's time we did away with all of these programs that are filled with libs ruining our government and replace them with Republicans who know how to run a business. I hope the Governor replaces all of them with people who know how to get the job done and quit bending to this liberal agenda running our state offices.

  • whatelseisnew Jan 6, 2014

    "pull your head out of the Rushbot fog and get a clue!"

    Sad that you think Government incompetence rolled through the door when McCory took office. It is the one constant you can count on. People do not understand that the lifer Government employees remain in place through multiple administrations.
    The only true solution is to slowly but surely eliminate as many Government agencies and programs as possible. For those that are having a problem, well, you rely on Government for your well-being then you deserve what your receive.

  • foodstamptrader Jan 6, 2014

    And you all want NC to massively expand this broken and poorly managed welfare program? LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And the hits just keep on coming in welfare land....

  • crkeehn Jan 6, 2014

    Medicaid coverage is applied for through the local DHHS office and records are kept locally.