The mid-term congressional election is less than two months away and some observers wonder whether the event will be all about nothing.
Feb. 01--CenterPoint Human Service has been given state regulatory approval to become a managed-care organization, effective today, ending a more than three-year quest.
CenterPoint oversees mental health, substance abuse and developmental disability services in Forsyth, Davie, Rockingham and Stokes counties. Its fiscal 2012-13 budget of $105.7 million comes mostly from Medicaid reimbursement fees and taxpayer money.
Julie Henry, a N.C. Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman, confirmed the state's approval Thursday.
The primary MCO goal is combining the management of Medicaid and state funds at the community level, in a manner similar to an insurer, to reduce costs and add more accountability and consistency to reform. The change allows MCOs to operate with fewer local restrictions, but with more state and Medicaid oversight.
The agency began pursuing MCO status in 2010 in response to a state initiative aimed at reducing the number of local management entities (LME) in North Carolina.
"This monumental achievement is made possible through community support, county funding assistance and a lot of hard work by stakeholders and staff," said Betty Taylor, CenterPoint's chief executive.
Taylor said the agency expects to have more than 1,200 network providers as an MCO. The agency hired 90 employees to help handle the new MCO duties, which more than doubled its previous workforce of 86.
Taylor said CenterPoint's board approved the MCO contracts Thursday. It secured a one-time loan of $800,640 from Forsyth as part of paying for its $3.7 million in MCO transition costs.
She said consumers should not notice a difference in how CenterPoint operates as a MCO. She said transitions for care coordination have already occurred for all behavioral-health patients.
"With our increased staff, we have been able to increase our care coordination efforts, for example care coordination went from one hospital liaison to three, which increased our presence in hospitals in our catchment area and outside our catchment area," Taylor said.
CenterPoint was one of three LMEs to receive state permission Nov. 30 to delay MCO implementation until Feb. 1. If CenterPoint had not met the deadline, state regulators could have moved affected its counties to an operating MCO by July 1.
CenterPoint officials requested the additional time upon the recommendation of Mercer, a health-care consulting group contracted by DHHS to review whether an LME is prepared to transition to an MCO.
CenterPoint officials learned Monday they would have a majority of new faces on their board after the Forsyth Board of Commissioners appointed four first-time representatives Monday.
Board composition was a hot-button issue most of 2012 as part of the MCO transition process.
There are at least nine new representatives on the 16-member CenterPoint board, counting a new Rockingham County commissioner, three mandated consumer and family advisory (CFAC) representatives, and an appointee from the secretary of N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
Some Forsyth commissioners have criticized how Taylor has dealt with them and how she runs CenterPoint. They said they wanted to appoint members that would be willing to give more direction to Taylor since only the board and DHHS secretary has the ability to replace the chief executive.
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