North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus concerned about DHHS


This time they are coming from members of the Legislative Black Caucus, who are echoing many of the questions people have been asking for weeks. Now, there are also some answers coming from the department's embattled spokesperson as well.

In a six page letter, the Democratic lawmakers want answers to a host of questions -- questions having to do with programs at the department, the judgment of its leadership, and who's getting access to information.

The message Wednesday was simple.

"Enough is enough," said Rep. Garland Pierce, D - Hoke.

The complaints ran the gamut.

There are key programs with major problems: Medicaid providers not getting paid; Food stamps not getting to people who need them; and, large pay raises given out after the governor called for a slowdown in state spending.

"It is not a private pocketbook for them for former campaign workers," said Rep. Larry Hall, D- Durham.

"We are demanding immediate action from the governor and Sec. Wos," said Sen. Earline Parmon, D - Forsyth.

For the first time in weeks, DHHS Spokesperson Ricky Diaz talked to ABC11 on camera. Diaz got one of those raises -- more than $20,000. We asked him about that and other complaints lodged against the department.

Jon Camp:  How do you justify some of those salary increases including your own?

"The secretary, when she walked into the department, walked into a leadership team which was vacant," said Diaz.

As for the problems with specific programs, Diaz said they are working on them -- noting that many of them they were inherited from previous administrations.

"It is a number one priority for the department to make sure folks are getting their benefits on time and to make sure that providers are getting paid," said Diaz.

Those answers may not satisfy lawmakers who say they've repeatedly been denied meetings with DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos, and weren't included in the letter Wos sent to select lawmakers, of which all but one was a Republican.

"When she decided to send out emails to 17 members, that's disappointing," said Sen. Floyd McKissick, D- Durham.

However, Diaz maintains lawmakers are getting all the information they need.

"We make it a practice to update the legislature and the leadership and everyone at the legislature about what is going on at the department," said Diaz.

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