Nov. 28--The looming shift in how local mental health care is managed has been delayed a month, from Jan. 1 to Feb 1.
Alliance Behavioral Healthcare announced Wednesday it has requested permission from the state to push back the launch of its managed care organization that will oversee care in Durham, Wake, Johnston and Cumberland counties.
The state Department of Health and Human Services supported the request, its interim director said in a statement.
Starting next year, Alliance will be given the four counties' full allocation of Medicaid dollars for mental health to manage. The Cumberland County Mental Health Center will continue to oversee care locally, through a contract with Alliance.
But the agencies will act as insurance companies, authorizing care through private contractors rather than providing it directly.
Doug Fuller, an Alliance spokesman, said the need to issue credentials to a network of more than 1,500 providers contributed to the request for a delay.
"It's a massive, massive job," he said. "It's basically starting from scratch."
Since July 1, Cumberland County has been funding mental health on a short term basis, while waiting to assess the impact of the change on services under the new system in the new year. It's not clear if the delay will change that, since Alliance still expects to start managing state and locally-funded services for Cumberland County starting Dec. 17.
Staff writer Gregory Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-3596.
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