Pinehurst, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory says he feels President Barack Obama's pain.
Obama has pulled out the stops in trying to fix the technical problems that have plagued the HealthCare.gov website since it opened for health insurance enrollment under the Affordable Care Act on Oct. 1. The president on Monday made a high-profile statement in the White House Rose Garden to stem criticism of the site, noting that he was also frustrated by the site delays and vowing to get things straightened out.
McCrory has been on a similar hot seat in recent months, standing by his Department of Health and Human Services as it tries to address problems with two computer systems implemented this year. NCTracks has been slow in handling Medicaid claims, while NC FAST has left some people without food stamps benefits for months.
In a Tuesday interview with WRAL News, he blamed the balky systems on the administration of former Gov. Beverly Perdue, noting that the systems were overdue and that his DHHS managers "had the courage" to move forward with them and try to work out the kinks.
"We're willing to take the black eyes for a system that was poorly bought, poorly trained and poorly implemented," he said.
DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos is doing everything she can to fix the problems, McCrory said, adding that he plans to stand by her as she takes "cheap shots" over the department's operations.
"She's one of the smartest people I have ever worked with in my public service career," he said.
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius was similarly "set up for failure," the governor said, in rolling out HealthCare.gov despite its problems.
During the interview, McCrory also defended North Carolina's new elections law, which has been challenged in court by the U.S. Department of Justice, the NAACP and others. He said other states have similar regulations, and he criticized state Attorney General Roy Cooper for his public stance against the legislation.
"You have to separate the politics from your own personal opinions and job you were elected to do," he said.
McCrory also promised to announce by next May "fantastic proposals" to benefit public school teachers and touted his administration's accomplishments during his first 10 months in office.
"We accomplished more in the first 10 months than any administration has in the past 20 years," he said, citing tax reform, an overhaul of highway funding, a reorganization of the Department of Commerce and changes to state personnel laws.
"Both Republicans and Democrats didn't like an outsider coming in, but I knew we had to make some dynamic changes," he said. "You don't read about it, but those things are going to make a major difference in the long run."