One thing is clear. Pat McCrory came to Raleigh with an agenda for Medicaid and he wasn’t about to let pesky facts get in his way. He never has.
He found a partisan ideologue to run the Department of Health and Human Services and got rid of all those mindless bureaucrats who get in the way of the free market. He replaced them with campaign cronies and high paid consultants with no experience in health or human services.
Then they set out to change Medicaid and let the free market reign. Unfortunately for them, the program was running fairly smoothly, especially considering the sharp and unexpected increase in enrollment due to the Great Recession. But that wasn’t going to slow McCrory and his train.
An audit by State Auditor Beth Wood seemed promising. Wood asked sharp questions about cost overruns and administrative costs. While the previous administration had good answers, DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos and Medicaid Director Lois Steckel had a word processor with a delete button. (By the way, why didn’t Beth Wood speak up and what does she have to say now?)
Rose Hoban of North Carolina Health News found that Wos and Steckel edited out whole paragraphs of the audit response to make the Medicaid program look mismanaged and chaotic. Wos used the edited audit response and report as an excuse to get rid of people with experience so she could hire political cronies and family friends at inflated salaries. McCrory used it to justify everything from denying raises to teachers to cutting our public universities. And he looked so disappointed when he talked about it, too.
But it’s all a lie. In fact, it seems like his whole administration is built on falsehoods, exaggerations and misrepresentations. He campaigned on adding transparency but defends Wos when she won’t talk to the press and says requests from the press deter her from doing her job. He said he would end cronyism but then added hundreds of patronage positions and hired campaign hacks at inflated salaries and no qualifications.
And then McCrory just lies. He said he was at the Moral Monday protests when he wasn’t. He said he hadn’t met with representatives of the video poker industry when he really had. He said he wouldn’t sign more restrictive abortion measures but he did that, too. He said that people applied for jobs who really didn’t. All just lies for the sake of lying.
The McCrory administration has developed an organizational culture where honesty is not a valued trait. It’s a Machiavellian culture where the ends justify the means. In essence, it’s a culture where deceit is a political tool. And it’s our state government.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >