Today, the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services will hold a public meeting with the NC Department of Health and Human Service. The meeting will feature members from both the NC House and Senate as well as representatives from DHHS, including Secretary Wos. Wos will be on hand to answer questions on a wide-range of topics from problems with the Medicaid billing system to controversies over staff salaries and severance packages. Based on what we’ve seen from Governor McCrory and DHHS so far this year, there is very little “health” care going on in the department, and a lot of political maneuvering
North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is having an identity crisis. Each day brings more alarming news about DHHS—abrupt resignations, politically-motivated hires, massive raises for inexperienced staffers. DHHS is a large and critical state agency. With an $18.3 billion budget, the agency is responsible for ensuring the health, safety and well-being of all North Carolinians, and—as of October 1—for proposing medically appropriate regulations for abortion providers under new legislation recently passed by the General Assembly.
In a move that shows more cronyism than concern about North Carolinians’ health, Margaret “Mardy” Peal was recently hired as Senior Planner for the agency. Peal has no recent health policy experience, but did recently serve on the board of directors of an anti-choice organization. To be specific, Peal served on the board of a CPC with an explicitly political anti-choice policy. Why would DHHS hire an ideologue opposed to the very procedures the agency oversees?
Besides the obvious antipathy to matters of health—especially women’s reproductive health—this hire seems to represent another embarrassing misstep from the administration following a legislative session rife with surreptitious parliamentary tactics and broken promises from the governor. If McCrory and DHHS truly care about women’s health, it’s time to put politics aside. This is about more than reproductive rights; this is about basic good governance.
Here’s to hoping that today’s meeting brings some much needed transparency to one of the state government’s most critical agencies.