NC public health chief also to oversee Medicaid

Posted February 11, 2014

N.C. Department of Health and Human Services

— Dr. Robin Cummings has been put in charge of North Carolina's Medicaid program, which Gov. Pat McCrory's administration is trying to overhaul to rein in costs and improve efficiency.

Heading the Division of Medical Assistance comes in addition to Cummings' duties as acting state health director and deputy secretary of health services for the Department of Health and Human Services.

"Dr. Cummings is a North Carolina native who is well-known and respected for his career as a cardiovascular surgeon," DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos said in a statement. "Since leaving the active practice of medicine, Dr. Cummings has demonstrated proven leadership skills in the health care industry. He understands firsthand how Medicaid affects beneficiaries and providers and that will greatly benefit DMA during this transformation."

Carol Steckel left as North Carolina's Medicaid director last fall, after only eight months on the job, to work for a Florida-based managed care company.

Cost overruns in the state's $13 billion Medicaid program have caused budgeting problems for lawmakers for years.

Wos and McCrory want to move toward a managed care model that would pay a group of providers a flat fee for each of the 1.6 million North Carolinians served by the health care program, shifting any profit or loss in providing that care off the state budget and onto the companies' books. Lawmakers have given the plan a lukewarm response, and a five-person panel has been traveling the state in recent months to gather input from providers, advocates and others about how best to reform Medicaid.

Cummings will now lead that transformation effort.

"The historical challenges facing Medicaid have been well documented, and these challenges are now being compounded by unprecedented change in the health care industry," he said in a statement. "To preserve Medicaid for future generations, we must improve and strengthen the operations of the state's Medicaid program. I look forward to working with the expertise in the division to accomplish this worthy goal."

Last week, DHHS signed contracts with Alvarez & Marsal and Navigant Healthcare to help improve the state's Medicaid operations. Consultants at Ernst & Young also recommended a variety of changes to improve budget forecasting capabilities.


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  • funnything Feb 12, 2014

    does adding a middle management person to your health care really help? i think it has been proven not to. can't recall the source. anyone?

  • faeriegurl65 Feb 11, 2014

    Talk about running your resources thin.... I wonder how long it's going to take Mr. Cummings to get smart and get out before he is blamed for everything that Wos is diverting in his direction. The state as a whole deserves better than this, shame shame shame!

  • Veronica Hammond Feb 11, 2014
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    So, as NIC pointed out below...what is the new lady with the MSW gonna do?

  • Stephania Sidberry Feb 11, 2014
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    Just FYI, Dr. Cummings is a he, not a she.

  • Nicole Collins Feb 11, 2014
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    The Governor says DHHS is too big and may need to be split up and then DHHS assigns Dr Cummings as Head of DMA as well as acting state health director and deputy secretary of health services. Guess DHHS is not too big for her to fail. The only reason she is acting state health director is because they put someone on charge who doesn't have an MD which is one of the qualifications so she is just a token in that position instead of getting someone actually qualified for the position. Unbelievable!