Wood: Medicaid audit not critical to McCrory expansion decision

10/31/2013 6:30 PM

10/31/2013 6:31 PM

State Auditor Beth Wood offered an expansive defense of her audit of the state Medicaid system, which included the controversial finding that the state spends a higher proportion of its money on administration than comparable states.

Wood met with The News & Observer editorial board Thursday to talk about her agency's audits.

A report by the North Carolina Health News in early October found responses to the audit submitted by the state Department of Health and Human Services under the administration of former Gov. Bev Perdue showing that North Carolina's administrative expenses looked good in comparison to other states’ when costs of managed care companies working in other states were included.

Wood stuck by her audit, saying that the figures used in her report were official number submitted to the federal office that oversees Medicaid. Medicaid experts, including the former head of the Medicare and Medicaid office in Atlanta, determined how the figures should be reported in the audit, she said.

"My findings are irrefutable," Wood said.

The report on administrative spending that a former DHHS official used to try to counter the audit included unverifiable information on managed care expenses, Wood said.

"Everyone is jumping up and down about this information that somebody pulled out of the sky," she said.

North Carolina Health News is standing by its report.

Gov. Pat McCrory and DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos appeared with Wood at a news conference to announce the audit findings.

McCrory uses the audit to bolster his contention that Medicaid is "broken," and as a reason not to expand Medicaid to about 500,000 low-income people as allowed under the Affordable Care Act.

Wood said Thursday that McCrory was describing Medicaid as "broken" before her audit came out, and that he listed three reasons in addition to the audit for not expanding the government health insurance program for the poor, elderly and disabled.

“It would not have mattered if I did the audit or didn't do the audit," Wood said. "He still had his three other reasons."

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