Under the Dome

Dome: 'Forecasting error' drives Medicaid cost up

May 2, 2013 

Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration is warning that the state health care program for the poor will cost $135 million more than anticipated.

The cost overruns for Medicaid now total $248 million. The state Department of Health and Human Services blamed former Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue’s administration for the “forecasting error” in estimating federal dollars coming to the state.

The Medicaid program – one of the largest areas of state spending – consistently exceeds expected costs, prompting lawmakers to put extra money in the prior year’s budget to cover overruns.

McCrory’s administration on Thursday used the shortfall to perpetuate the government-is-broken mantra and push for changes to the Medicaid system. “We have been taking a close look at previous Medicaid forecasting practices in order to create a more transparent and accurate process going forward,” health Secretary Aldona Wos. “We are charting a new course of accountability within the Department of Health and Human Services and are seeking bold reforms to create a predictable and sustainable Medicaid system in North Carolina.”

Hagan gets boost after gun vote

A new poll suggests that Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan may have helped herself when she voted recently to support background checks for gun sales.

A survey found that 52 percent of North Carolina voters were more inclined to re-elect Hagan next year because of that vote, while 26 percent said they would be less likely to support her.

The survey was conducted by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm in Raleigh. The firm found similar results in Louisiana, where Sen. Mary Landrieu also faces re-election next year.

The poll found that 72 percent of Tar Heel voters support background checks, while 22 percent oppose it.

The spin: “Mary Landrieu and Kay Hagan helped their chances for re-election by supporting background checks,” said Dean Debnam, the firm’s president. “Their constituents overwhelmingly support the stance they took on this issue and are ready to reward them for it at the ballot box next year.”

The survey of 600 North Carolina voters was conducted April 30-May 1 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

GOP announces headliners

More big-name Republicans are coming to North Carolina for the state GOP convention this June.

The party announced former Congressman J.C. Watts Jr. of Oklahoma will keynote the governor’s reception June 7. “J.C. is not only a visionary and a bold advocate for conservative principles, but he is also a man of great humility and integrity,” said state Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes in a statement.

The party announced a day earlier that Karl Rove would keynote the Saturday dinner banquet at the convention in Charlotte. More special guests are expected to be announced in coming days.

McCrory appoints judge

Gov. Pat McCrory on Thursday announced the appointment of a special superior court judge. Those judges hear cases throughout the state.

He named Ebern “Trip” Watson III to the position. Watson is currently an assistant district attorney in Bladen County. He was a prosecutor in neighboring Sampson and Duplin counties before that.

Watson graduated from Vermont Law School.

Besides Watson, the other appointment is Lisa Bell, who has been a district court judge in Mecklenburg County. McCrory announced her appointment in March.

Staff writers John Frank, Rob Christensen and Craig Jarvis

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