The new Secretary of Health and Human Services has denied Mecklenburg County’s request to reinstate MeckLINK as the area’s manager of hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid funds.
MeckLINK has spent $3 million and hired 131 workers as preparation for managing over $200 million of Medicaid funds for mental health, disability, and substance abuse services. Last week, Secretary of Health and Human Services Al Delia stripped the county of that duty, after a state consulting company found MeckLINK would not be able to take over by a February deadline.
On a conference call this morning, county officials appealed that decision to the new Secretary, Aldona Wos. She denied it.
"The report from the independent reviewer indicates MeckLINK is not prepared to begin operating the [program] as of February 1,” Wos said in an e-mail statement Friday afternoon. “Therefore, this is the right decision to move forward in creating a more efficient system of managing behavioral health care in our state."
The commission is scheduled to meet tomorrow with county staff and attorneys to discuss next steps. Commissioner Dumont Clarke says continuing to fight for MeckLINK over Cardinal may not be the best solution for the county.
"If you had ten dollars and you were going to bet on one or the other being successful, I think you’d put your ten dollars on Cardinal," Clarke sayss. "They’re not a start-up, and they haven’t had Mercer Government Consulting say they’re not ready to take this on."
In an e-mail, Commissioner Bill James said,"This means either Mecklenburg must sue the State or fire 200 people and agree that $3 million was wasted. Neither are good choices." Health management firm Cardinal Innovations, formerly called PBH, is slated to take over the funds.
This post was updated at 1:49pm and again at 5:09.