State auditor blasts DHHS for NCTracks problems

State Auditor Beth Wood issued a devastating critique of North Carolina’s launch of a new Medicaid payment system Monday afternoon, saying the program was fraught with problems and the state still lacks “a comprehensive action plan” to solve the problems.

The audit was more criticism of the Department of Health and Human Services, which has been under scrutiny in the Pat McCrory administration. Secretary Aldona Wos has been criticized for some hires, and for problems with NCTracks, and defended her department’s performance in a General Assembly hearing Oct. 8.

In the audit, Wood reports:

  • • Since going live, the NCTracks system has encountered more than 3,200 defects. More than 600 defects remain unresolved;
  • • The Department has an inadequate framework for the timely resolution of NCTracks defects;
  • • The state lacks a comprehensive action plan to address all NCTracks issues;
  • • Federal and state government mandated changes have not been implemented within their target or mandatory implementation dates;
  • • The state government “revolving door” creates a perception of bias or conflict of interest.

The latter point is a reference to a former top state employee who went to work for CSC as the NCTracks executive account director.

NCTracks went live July 1 and is part of a $484 million contract that had been awarded to Computer Sciences Corporation in 2008. The State Auditor initiated the audit to keep the General Assembly informed on NCTracks’ progress.

The report said auditors found NCTracks defects are being resolved, but “the lack of formal goals to resolve defects in a timely manner” is a problem.

The report said there are also problems with inconsistent handling of callers to the Call Center.

In its formal response, DHHS said it had received favorable opinions from launching NCTracks on July 1. It also said there were fiscal and implementation concerns if the launch was pushed back.

DHHS said NCTracks had functioned better than industry average for such a large project, but said it still needed “to work diligently” to pay providers on time.

DHHS said it “has been managing NCTracks defects efficiently since go-live. Formal target response times are in place and defect metrics have been tracked.”

In a statement to the media, DHHS Chief Information Officer Joe Cooper said:

“NCTracks has processed 81 million claims and paid almost $4.5 billion to North Carolina healthcare providers, but it is clear that there is still work to do. While DHHS has a process in place for prioritizing and resolving issues with NCTracks and over 81 percent of all identified defects have been resolved, we thank the Auditor for her recommendations.

“It is important to note that the number of defects in NCTracks is significantly less than the industry average for a software system of its size and complexity, and do not affect the vast majority of providers. Our primary focus continues to be to make system improvements and to ensure that every provider is paid for the work they do.

“But if even one provider is impacted negatively, that’s one too many.”

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