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N.C. Opinions: Winston-Salem

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Aldona Wos, you work for the N.C. public now

From an editorial in Friday’s (Winston-Salem) Journal:

If Aldona Wos wants to hide what she’s doing at work from public view, she should quit her state job and go to work for a private company.

Wos, North Carolina’s secretary of health and human services, has repeatedly complained about press coverage of her department and both press and public requests for information about it. Just to make sure that no pesky journalists bother her, she also travels with an escort who keeps reporters from asking her questions.

It is flabbergasting that on Tuesday, when legislators grilled Wos and her department about its poor performance in paying Medicaid providers, Wos took time to whine about public-records requests.

Capitol Broadcasting Co. reports that when asked about a critical report of her department’s behavior that appeared on the North Carolina Health News website, Wos first noted that she hadn’t read the piece and then complained about the many records that the website’s reporter and other members of the public had requested since she took her job.

We find her response troubling on two fronts.

First, we find it disconcerting that Wos would ignore an investigative story about her department that was published by a distinguished health-news outlet. The report raised serious questions about her agency’s truthfulness when dealing with the legislature and public.

Second, we’re sorry that the records requests inconvenience Wos, but we would remind the good doctor that the public has a right to know what its government is doing, especially the biggest department of its government, one that spends billions of tax dollars annually and that is doing a poor job of paying Medicaid providers.

We would add that the governor who appointed Wos came to office promising to fix what he calls a “broken government” and that her agency’s inability to do the fixing is creating a crisis for some medical providers.

Wos would be wise to stop complaining about her press coverage and public records requests and focus more on fixing her broken department.

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