Under the Dome

Auditor challenges DHHS NC Tracks explanations

State Auditor Beth Wood sent legislators a letter Thursday saying state Department of Health and Human Services officials offered incomplete information about the Medicaid bill paying system called NC Tracks.

Wood referred to a May 22 audit to refute statements from Dr. Aldona Wos, DHHS secretary, and agency IT chief Joe Cooper at an all-day meeting Tuesday on agency issues. Agency officials and legislators spent hours talking about NC Tracks because it’s been a big problem for health care providers. Some have months of bills awaiting payment.

When Sen. Earline Parmon of Winston-Salem asked whether the agency has received any professional opinions that the system might not be ready for operation on July 1, Wos replied, “No, Senator.”

Wood wrote that Wos’ answer ignores the May 22 audit that pointed out flaws in testing and other preparations.

“The Department should re-evaluate its current ‘Go’ decision for July 1, 2013, once final Go/No-go criteria is established and documented,” the audit said.

When the audit was released, DHHS said it had addressed the concerns it raised.

On Tuesday, Cooper told legislators that the agency reached “a point of no return” on Feb. 28, when the state had to cancel its contract with HP, the company that ran the old system.

Wood said this contradicts what DHHS leaders told auditors.

Department leaders told auditors that HP would be willing to continue working if NC Tracks wasn’t ready July 1, Wood wrote.

“The fact that Mr. Cooper and the Department now characterize the contract termination as a ‘point-of-no-return’ indicates that the Department’s decision to go-live did not take into account the actual readiness of the system or the critical risks that were raised between February 28 and June 30,” Wood wrote.