RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina lawmakers want state health officials to take nearly $4 million in severance away from the fired CEO of a regional mental health agency and three other top administrators who resigned.

The Department of Health and Human Services took temporary control of Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions two weeks ago after state audits identified excessive spending, executive pay and benefits for departing executives.

The previous Cardinal board agreed to the $3.8 million in severance. DHHS demanded Cardinal repay the money to the state using funds earmarked for administrative expenses. But several members of a General Assembly oversight committee Tuesday urged DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen to recover the money directly from ex-CEO Richard Topping and the other executives.

Cohen said agency lawyers are looking at whether direct reimbursement is possible.