WJTV News Channel 12 - Key GOP leaders not calling on McCrory to fire Wos

Key GOP leaders not calling on McCrory to fire Wos

Posted: Updated:
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Despite more troubles at North Carolina's health agency, legislative Republicans aren't ready to join Democrats in asking that Gov. Pat McCrory replace its chief, as legislators prepared to meet Tuesday to seek answers on a privacy breach and food stamp delays.

A legislative oversight committee scheduled several hours to hear from leaders of the Department of Health and Human Services on several topics, as is common with their monthly gathering. However, this meeting comes after the department mistakenly mailed nearly 50,000 Medicaid cards for children to the wrong addresses late last month, and questions were raised with the time it took to make the error public.

Now a backlog in food stamp applications or renewals resurfaced after DHHS leaders told the same committee in October an earlier logjam had been all but eliminated.

A December letter from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, first reported by WNCN News last week, threatens to cut off federal funds to run the state's food assistance program unless families are served more quickly and DHHS can prove a better plan of action.

Rep. Justin Burr, R-Stanly and co-chairman of the DHHS oversight committee, said he's bothered that he heard about the new bottleneck in applications last week through the media. While the card and food stamp matters aren't listed on Tuesdays agenda, Burr said it will get attention.

"We hope to get some answers about what's going wrong and why we are just now hearing about" food stamp delays, Burr said Monday, adding legislators "need to be kept up to speed."

But Burr and other Republicans aren't joining the chorus of Democrats calling on McCrory to fire DHHS Secretary Dr. Aldona Wos. Democrats say it's clear she's not providing the right leadership entering the second year of the Republican governor's term.

"They're no longer able to blame everything on (Democratic Gov.) Mike Easley and Gov. (Beverly) Perdue," said Rep. Garland Pierce, D-Scotland, chairman of the North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus late last week. "They've had ample time - one year - to correct a lot of problems to get things moving."

In separate interviews, Burr and Sen. Tommy Tucker, R-Union, a frequent critic of the department, defended keeping Wos on the job. They said DHHS needs stable leadership. Wos, a Greensboro physician and McCrory campaign supporter, is the third secretary since early 2012 of a department that spends $18 billion annually.

"The secretary's job has sort of been like musical chairs and employees need ... consistency," Tucker said.

McCrory supports Wos, who is expected to attend Tuesday's meeting and address the committee. The governor has confidence that Wos and her team "are working hard to ensure that those who need benefits, receive benefits," McCrory spokesman Ryan Tronovitch wrote in an email.

Data provided by DHHS showed as of Dec. 31, nearly 35,000 pending case applications or renewals to receive food stamps were considered to be "untimely" by federal standards, most often a wait of more than 30 days. More than 5,800 of those had been waiting for at least 120 days, the data show. About 1.7 million people receive Food and Nutrition Services, the state's name for food stamps.

DHHS spokeswoman Julie Henry acknowledged Monday the backlog increased at the close of last year. But agency officials say the latest one is being whittled away and isn't as great as the numbers indicated. More than 5,000 applications already are determined to be duplicates, meaning these people are receiving benefits, according to Wayne Black, director of the state Division of Social Services.

"What we're seeing and hearing on the ground is that there is not currently a significant disruption in benefits to food stamp recipients," Black said in a prepared statement. "However, we are not in compliance with USDA requirements for processing timeframes and are working on an aggressive plan to meet them."

State health officials attributed these latest delays in part to increased responsibilities for county case workers as a computer system that determines qualifications for government services began determining eligibility for Medicaid based on new income thresholds. It's mandated by the health care overhaul law.

A software upgrade to the NCFAST computer system released in mid-July caused the first round of delays, prompting higher demand at many local food banks.

RELATED STORIES

  • PoliticsMore>>

  • NC GOP Senate candidates face off as early voting begins

    NC GOP Senate candidates face off as early voting begins

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:15 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:15:49 GMT
    The four top-polling Republican Senate candidates, vying to unseat Democrat Kay Hagan, debated on Wednesday night in Raleigh, the night before early voting was set to begin. The primary is May 6, but voters can start heading to the polls on Thursday.During the half hour televised debate, State House of Representatives Speaker Thom Tillis of Charlotte said he was leading a conservative revolution in Raleigh, cutting regulations and taking credit for falling unemployment numbers. Tillis faces c...
    The four top-polling Republican Senate candidates, vying to unseat Democrat Kay Hagan, debated on Wednesday night in Raleigh, the night before early voting was set to begin. The primary is May 6, but voters can start heading to the polls on Thursday.During the half hour televised debate, State House of Representatives Speaker Thom Tillis of Charlotte said he was leading a conservative revolution in Raleigh, cutting regulations and taking credit for falling unemployment numbers. Tillis faces c...
  • Committee proposes rules for drone use in NC

    Committee proposes rules for drone use in NC

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 4:58 PM EDT2014-04-23 20:58:27 GMT
    A legislative committee approved a set of regulations that it hopes will calm people's fears about the use of drones while allowing the industry to flourish.
    A legislative committee approved a set of regulations that it hopes will calm people's fears about the use of drones while allowing the industry to flourish.
  • Republican NC Senate candidates meet in debate

    Republican NC Senate candidates meet in debate

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 2:24 PM EDT2014-04-23 18:24:44 GMT
    Thom Tillis largely shrugged off criticism about aspects of his legislative record from one of the three other candidates participating in their first television debate.
    Thom Tillis largely shrugged off criticism about aspects of his legislative record from one of the three other candidates participating in their first television debate.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Mom bites off dog's ear to save daughter during attack

    Mom bites off dog's ear to save daughter during attack

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 2:49 PM EDT2014-04-22 18:49:19 GMT
    Image from CNN/KHOU-TVImage from CNN/KHOU-TV
    In a backyard in Alvin, swings a very lucky girl. Her name is Mackenzi Plass, or Kenzi for short, and she survived a dog attack and has undergone several surgeries."She'll be two and a half in May," said her very proud mother Chelsi Camp. "She's doing great. You wouldn't know it if you couldn't see."Mackenzi has scars on her face after the ordeal just weeks ago that put her mother's animal instincts to the test."You do whatever you can," said Camp. "I don't have physical strength at my side."...
    In a backyard in Alvin, swings a very lucky girl. Her name is Mackenzi Plass, or Kenzi for short, and she survived a dog attack and has undergone several surgeries."She'll be two and a half in May," said her very proud mother Chelsi Camp. "She's doing great. You wouldn't know it if you couldn't see."Mackenzi has scars on her face after the ordeal just weeks ago that put her mother's animal instincts to the test."You do whatever you can," said Camp. "I don't have physical strength at my side."...
  • Owner of Raleigh 'Party Mansion' guilty of tax evasion

    Owner of Raleigh 'Party Mansion' guilty of tax evasion

    Monday, April 14 2014 4:07 PM EDT2014-04-14 20:07:04 GMT
    Claude Verbal II, who now lives in Miami, pleads guilty to a number of federal tax evasion charges.
    Claude Verbal II, who now lives in Miami, pleads guilty to a number of federal tax evasion charges.
  • Piedmont Farm Tour

    Piedmont Farm Tour

    Piedmont Farm Tour

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:25 PM EDT2014-04-23 16:25:38 GMT
    The 2014 Piedmont Farm Tour is happening April 26-27 from 2-6pm both days! Come learn about the Triangle’s local and organic farm food scene. Meet local farmers tour their farms!View ourGoogle Interactive Mapfor alist ofthe exceptional farms on the tour this year – with driving directions!Download a PDF of theFarm Tour Brochure - Farm tour maps, directions and descriptions of all the fun things to do at each farm! How to Take the Piedmont Farm Tour Load up a car with your friends andfamily...
    The 2014 Piedmont Farm Tour is happening April 26-27 from 2-6pm both days! Come learn about the Triangle’s local and organic farm food scene. Meet local farmers tour their farms!View ourGoogle Interactive Mapfor alist ofthe exceptional farms on the tour this year – with driving directions!Download a PDF of theFarm Tour Brochure - Farm tour maps, directions and descriptions of all the fun things to do at each farm! How to Take the Piedmont Farm Tour Load up a car with your friends andfamily...
Powered by WorldNow

1820 TV Road
Jackson, MS 39204

Telephone: 601.372.6311
Fax: 804.819.5569
Email: wjtvnews@wjtv.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.