New N&O series to examine Medicaid services, management

Posted by Steve Riley on July 4, 2014 

Later this evening online and Saturday morning in print, The News & Observer takes aim at the vexing questions surrounding North Carolina's Medicaid program.

Please, stifle your yawns. This is important.

Medicaid is a $13-billion-a-year enterprise in North Carolina, and it provides care for 1.7 million of our poor children, some of their parents, the disabled and elderly. It's important that the state get it right, providing proper care without breaking the bank.

Gov. Pat McCrory has declared the program "broken," using that as a reason that the state didn't expand the program to cover more people under the Affordable Care Act. Figuring out how to fix it has been among the reasons that this legislative session isn't over yet, and some of the proposals would significantly scale back care for the elderly and poor.

Lynn Bonner and Joseph Neff, two of our veteran reporters, have been digging around on this the past few months. Their findings, which we're publishing in a two-part series Saturday and Sunday called "Critical Condition," contain some surprises.

For one, the state's delivery of services is better than our leaders have led us to believe. For another, the agency that runs the program may be more troubled than our previous stories have indicated.

Of all the issues that we've examined, all the agencies we've investigated, Medicaid and DHHS rank among the most complex. People of differing political philosophies can come to different conclusions about how the program, which dates back to Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, ought to work.

So we set out to explain as much about the program as we could, and to reveal as much about its management as possible. We hope it'll make for interesting reading.

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