Under the Dome

NC Medicaid officials to meet with employees

The 400 or so people who work in the state Medicaid office are being called to meetings this week to talk about the future of the government health insurance program as the state moves toward privatization.

There’s time for questions and answers. A top question will likely be what’s going to happen to their jobs.

In a series of meetings starting Tuesday, Dave Richard, the state Department of Health and Human Services secretary over Medicaid (which the state calls the Division of Medical Assistance), and other administrators will talk about “North Carolina’s innovative approach to Medicaid reform and DMA’s role,” according to a notice employees received.

The new law puts the state on track toward contracting with Medicaid managed-care organizations such as insurance companies or networks controlled by doctors and hospitals to oversee patient care. There’s a lot of work to do, and federal approvals to get, before any contracts are signed.

Under the law, DMA is eliminated one year after the state signs those contracts. The Medicaid office could go earlier, on the DHHS secretary’s recommendation. A new Division of Health Benefits will replace the Medicaid office.

Sen. Ralph Hise, a chief negotiator on the Medicaid bill, said this month that jobs in the new division will be very different from those at DMA, though DMA employees will be able to apply for the new jobs.

Health Benefits employees will work outside the protections offered under the state personnel act.