Mecklenburg County will have another chance to prove it’s ready to take over more than $200 million in Medicaid funds for mental health services.
The county spent the last two years and $3 million preparing its agency MeckLINK to handle mental health, substance abuse, and disability services, as part of a statewide change to how Medicaid funds for those services are dispersed.
In December, the state’s Secretary of Health and Human Services removed that responsibility when a state consultant found MeckLINK wouldn’t be ready by the target date of February 1st. He reassigned the job to a similar, but outside organization, Cardinal Innovations.
In January, new Secretary Aldona Wos upheld that decision. In response, the county decided to sue. Today, Wos gave MeckLINK a month extension.
“This deal is a vast improvement over the previous situation," says County Commissioner Bill James. "It resolves the litigation, but it also puts pressure on county management to ensure that everything regarding MeckLINK is in order by March 1st.
That pressure comes because MeckLINK will have to undergo two more reviews, and the first is next week.
“If the review indicates that MeckLINK is not going to be able to be ready by March 1st, Mecklenburg County and DHHS have agreed to reassign management oversight to Cardinal Innovations,” says Health and Human Services spokeswoman Julie Henry.
By administering the funds through MeckLINK, the county would earn $20 million in fees this year alone.