Aug. 09--Providers of local mental health and developmental-disability services will take an average 8 percent funding cut for fiscal year 2012-13 as the result of a loss of federal block-grant money for those sectors.
CenterPoint Human Services said Wednesday the cut is retroactive to July 1.
CenterPoint, based in Winston-Salem, receives taxpayer funding as a local management entity (LME) of behavioral-health services in Davie, Forsyth, Rockingham and Stokes counties.
The agency learned July 13 of an overall $1.7 million reduction in federal block-grant money from the N.C. Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services.
About 65 percent of the reduction, or $633,474, is being taken from developmental-disability contracts, while 35 percent, or $333,256, is being taken from mental health contracts. The agency already had projected a $722,553 cut in federal substance abuse prevention and treatment block grants.
CenterPoint's budget for fiscal 2012-13 is $93.2 million, according to its website.
Betty Taylor, CenterPoint's executive director, said in a statement the agency's decision was made after consulting community leaders and advocacy groups. "The service systems for all of the three disability groups must remain stable," she said, adding that the local substance-abuse support system could not withstand another reduction.
The agency's funding decision could influence a potential discussion today by Forsyth County commissioners of CenterPoint's latest appeal for $1.53 million in one-time funding. The board will hold a briefing at 2 p.m.
The agency initially made its funding request to the four county commissioner boards in March.
CenterPoint says the funding is necessary to close a potential $2 million shortfall in its $3.7 million transition cost to a Medicaid waiver program and managed care organization (MCO) by Jan. 1. It is one of 10 LMEs currently making the transition.
"We hope to get clarity among the commissioners as to whether there is interest in addressing the (issue)" and bringing it up for a vote, said Dudley Watts, the Forsyth county manager. The possibility CenterPoint would cut funding for services to pay for MCO transition costs has been the main worry of some local advocates and providers at a time when more people with behavioral health issues lack insurance.
The primary goal of the waiver is combining the management of Medicaid and state funds at the community level to reduce costs and add more accountability and consistency to behavioral-health reform. It allows MCOs to operate with fewer restrictions.
Stokes' board approved CenterPoint's$148,127 request and Davie's board approved an $89,270 request, said Penny Casto, the agency's consumer and community affairs manager. She said Rockingham's board has not addressed the request for $228,579.
Richard Linville, chairman of the Forsyth commissioners, has said he doesn't believe the commissioners feel pressured to provide the loan, but acknowledged members could face criticism if CenterPoint does cut funding for services.
About 71 percent of CenterPoint's MCO transition costs, or $2.64 million, are for administrative expenses, including the hiring of 86 full-time employees and the buying or leasing of office equipment, office space, training and company vehicles. The hiring goal, if completed, would double CenterPoint's workforce.
Without the one-time allocation -- to be paid back over five years -- CenterPoint warned it would cut discretionary funding for behavioral-health services in Forsyth as it paid the MCO transition costs from existing funds.
"The health of CenterPoint's fund balance is critical to waiver implementation," said Kevin Beauchamp, its chief financial officer.
"If a county does not make its MCO startup contribution, CenterPoint must reserve its own funds for that purpose. This means that the contribution amount is no longer available for services."
Valerie Vizena, executive director of The Enrichment Center in Winston-Salem, already has been told by CenterPoint it would lose $69,032 if the Forsyth commissioners did not provide the one-time funding. The funding cut CenterPoint announced Wednesday represents an additional $20,000, she said.
The center serves about 500 families of people with development disabilities.
"We all have to be savvy with our finances in this economy," Vizena said. "However, reducing services will result in a reduction of our staff (of 80).
"One of my biggest fears is that families will be forced to go to work, and leaving their family member with intellectual/developmental disabilities alone, causing a possible increase in neglect.
"We have been able to manage our budgets in ways that have not forced us to reduce services to individuals so far; but I am concerned that with new cuts, we may be forced to reduce services. Already, we have more people with disabilities in Forsyth waiting for services than those actually receiving services."
(c)2012 Winston-Salem Journal (Winston Salem, N.C.)
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