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NC Medicaid director resigns from DHHS

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RALEIGH -- Carol Steckel, the state Medicaid director, is leaving the Department of Health and Human Services after being on the job for only eight months.

Steckel said she is leaving DHHS to take a job with WellCare Health Plans in Tampa, Fla. Her last day will be Oct. 11.

This is the most prominent departure from the second-largest state agency beleaguered by questions about hiring practices and problems with Medicaid and food stamp programs.

In her resignation letter, Steckel said:

"I appreciate the opportunity to you provided me to work on behalf of the people of North Carolina. My greatest and most moving experiences were the times I was able to meet with the families of adult children with disabilities. These families, and the challenges they face, taught me in a very unique and powerful manner about the impact of our decisions and work on their lives."

DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos hired Steckel to oversee and reform the state’s Medicaid service, which perennially has run massive deficits.

Wos said, in a statement, that Steckel “brought fresh ideas and deep knowledge and experience to the state’s Medicaid program.”

“This is an excellent private sector opportunity for Carol to return to the state where she grew up, and we will miss her greatly. We appreciate her commitment to a smooth transition as we progress towards creating a predictable and sustainable Medicaid system for the people of North Carolina,” Wos said.

Steckel had previous experience in public health in Louisiana and Alabama. She made $210,000 a year.

This isn’t the first high-level departure from DHHS. Dr. Laura Gerald, the state health director, left in July. The state’s top dentist and head of the oral health division, Rebecca King, was fired earlier this month.

This departure also comes in the midst of questions about hiring practices at DHHS — the latest of which concerns a $37,000 severance paid to Wos’ former chief of staff, Thomas Adams, who was on the job for only a month.

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