@NCCapitol

Outgoing DHHS chief: Politics led to frustration

Posted January 31, 2012

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— Lanier Cansler stepped down Tuesday as secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, saying that he expects the frustration of running the state's largest agency to increase in an election year.

Cansler, who has headed DHHS since the beginning of Gov. Beverly Perdue's administration three years ago, announced Jan. 13 that he would leave at the end of the month to start a consulting business focusing on finding better ways for health care to work in North Carolina.

He said he's used to challenges – he was a four-term Republican lawmaker who has served for a Democratic governor. Still, reconciling the differences between the executive and legislative branches of government became tougher than ever in recent months.

"It does get frustrating whenever you're working on the issues and you get caught in the political contest," he said. "In each of their minds, I think what they're thinking is the best thing for the state, but there's great philosophical differences."

Republican legislative leaders and Perdue have been at odds in recent weeks, for example, over how to handle a growing budget hole at DHHS.

The agency's budget was cut by more than $350 million last summer, but difficulties in making those cuts – the federal government didn't approve of many moves – has left DHHS with a $150 million deficit. It's projected to grow to more than $240 million by fiscal 2012-13, which starts in July.

"I realize politics are always going to be there, but to the extent you can let the right decision rule the day rather than let politics rule the day, that's the goal, because that's when you can achieve the most for the state," Cansler said.

Cansler leaves DHHS with no regrets Cansler leaves DHHS with no regrets

Throughout his tenure, Cansler also dealt with allegations of neglect and abuse at the state's psychiatric hospitals. Months before he took over, a patient at Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro fell and was left in a chair, neglected for nearly 24 hours before he died.

One of his first actions in 2009 was to establish a zero-tolerance policy for patient abuse, yet a May 2010 incident at Cherry Hospital prompted him to order intensive retraining for all employees of the facility.

Cansler said he's proud of the strides made to change the culture inside DHHS, such as better training, to fight Medicaid fraud and to stabilize the state's mental health system. He said, however, that the state needs to invest more in mental health.

Perdue has named senior policy advisor Al Delia acting secretary of DHHS. Cansler has agreed to be chairman of Perdue's new Commission on Affordable and Sustainable Healthcare, and he said he would be available to help Delia as needed.

"I'll still be in the mix. I just don't have to worry about the crisis of the day," he said.

15 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • mcmillancladdaug Feb 2, 2012

    Let's see...Cansler has made a mess of things running the dept
    and now wants to leave the mess for the next person. How quaint!
    On top of that, Bev wants to give him a position as Chairman of
    Commission on Affordable & Sustainable Healthcare. This is truly laughable and should be a crime. Thank goodness Bev is not going to run again. I guess she decided, just like Cansler, NC is a mess and now it's time to leave. I wonder what Committee/lobbyist group she is going to work for?? Great
    leadership, folks!

  • ladyblue Feb 1, 2012

    THAT IS THE TRUE MEAINING OF FRUSTRUTION IF YOU ASK KME THANK YOU
    pbjbeach

    Again frustrations of people working for our state who are incompetent in compehension and grammar...er.....

  • ladyblue Feb 1, 2012

    I really hope the door does hit him in the rear on his way out, and locks behind him.

    R
    OFL---lets leave the door open and the lights on. It would cost NC taxpayers several million more to find anyone competent enough in some of these governemtn postions to get it back open...

  • pbjbeach Feb 1, 2012

    REBELYELL55

    THAT IS EXACTLY RIGHT. THE TOP HEAVY TOP DOWN MANAGEMENT SALARYS ARE THE REASON THAT RANK AN FLIE STATE EMPLOYE CAN AN HAVENT HAD ANY FORM OF DECENT PAY IONCREASEE FOR YEAR S ON TOP OF YEARS AN MCCORY IF ELECTED WOULD ONLY FATHER MAKE THIS SITUTAION WORSE FOR THE AVERAGS WORKER IN STATE GOVERNMENT AN ALL THE WHILE FARTHER FATTENING UP THE TOP MANGAMENT POCKETS FARTHER THANK YOU

  • pbjbeach Feb 1, 2012

    EH DOESNT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT FRUSTRATIONSHE SHOULD HAVE TO WORK AS THE RANK AN FLE STATE EMPLOYEE HAVE TO DO SO AN THEY ARE THEY ONES THAT ARE TRUELY FEELING THE REAL FRUSTRATIONS WITHIN THE WHOLE SYSTEM OF STATE GOVERNMENT, THE LIES THE FRAUD THE WASTE THE ABUSE THAT THEY ARE FORCE TO WITNESS ON A DAILY BASE AN THEN HAVE TO KEEP THEIR MOUNTHS SHUT ABOUT EXACTLAY WHAT IS TAKING PLACE WITHIN THE STATE GOVERNMENT OF NORTH CAROLINA IF THEY WANT TO KEEP THEIR JOBS . THAT IS THE TRUE MEAINING OF FRUSTRUTION IF YOU ASK KME THANK YOU

  • storchheim Feb 1, 2012

    piloterror1, you and I should compare notes. I was one of those driven out of IT at DHHS as lower and middle management practiced and rewarded discrimination. They want neither competent people nor teamwork. By allowing and encouraging chaos they were constantly able to throw their disliked subordinates under the bus. And I never saw such a bunch of gossipy old women trapped in male bodies.

    I'd cross the street rather than you-know-what on them if they were on fire.

    mulecitybabe, "and locks behind him"! Never heard that before, thanks for the good one! Might I add, "hits him, loosens his dental fillings, and locks behind him!"

  • Rebelyell55 Feb 1, 2012

    Would like to say this would save some money, but no telling what he's leaving with.
    Unless our goverment leaders do some serious looking at the bloated up tier of management in our state's agencies, there will never be any improvement or stopping of the abuse and waste of tax dollars.

  • Sherlock Feb 1, 2012

    Bye

  • piloterror1 Feb 1, 2012

    i retired from DHHS in IT. hiring & retention of incompetent, out of touch, detached upper management that wasted millions- literally millions - of dollars, hiring more incompetents to fail on projects. the best people were driven out to other state agencies or the private sector.

  • tgentry1005 Feb 1, 2012

    It is interesting, politics has been BIG in NC for years but from only one side and no big stories pointing it out. Now, when the politics is coming from two sides with one wanting to clean things up it is a BIG deal. Especially for the side that is loosing control and for the media............ INTERESTING!!

More...