Mecklenburg County commissioners voted 7-2 last night to work out an agreement to turn oversight of mental health, substance abuse, and disability care to Cardinal Innovations, less than a year after the county launched its own agency, MeckLINK, at a cost of more than $8 million. The county started MeckLINK because of a state reorganization, and now it has to give it up because of another one.

Ben Bradford / WFAE

Mecklenburg County commissioners met with the leadership team of Cardinal Innovations on Monday afternoon, in one of the final steps as the county prepares to surrender oversight of its mental health patients and millions of dollars in Medicaid funds. Commissioners had three requests for Cardinal, but little leverage to negotiate.

Michael Tomsic

Low-income families in Cabarrus County still face long delays before getting food stamps, although those delays are getting shorter.

They're tied to a new online system the state is making counties use for applications for food stamps. Cabarrus and Mecklenburg were among several counties the state called "code red" last month because of how much they struggled with the new system.

WFAE's Michael Tomsic reports on the progress those counties have made.   


Mecklenburg County commissioners are poised to give up the county’s new mental health agency, MeckLINK, less than a year after it opened for business. The state is forcing their hand.

Last year, North Carolina changed how it provides mental health care for those on Medicaid. The state put 11 regional organizations, called MCOs, in charge and gave them less money to work with. So, cuts to care were expected.

About half of these MCOs, including MeckLINK in Charlotte, have denied upward of 20 percent of requests for care, according to self-reported data from the organizations. Patients can appeal, but North Carolina has made the process far more difficult.

Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured

Governor Pat McCrory's administration is still working on an overhaul of one of North Carolina's most important – and expensive – health programs.

Medicaid serves about one and a half million low-income or disabled North Carolinians. And it costs the state roughly $36 million a day. McCrory has said the program is broken and inefficient, often pointing to an audit that found North Carolina is horrible at managing costs and budgeting.

About 1.5 million North Carolinians rely on Medicaid for health care. It's a massive program that costs the state about $36 million a day. And it may be about to change dramatically. Governor Pat McCrory is pushing for an overhaul that some say would privatize the program. We'll examine what's working in the current model – what's not – and what the overhaul would mean for North Carolina, when Charlotte Talks.


Governor Pat McCrory outlined a plan to significantly change North Carolina's Medicaid program last week. A key person responsible for filling in the details is Carol Steckel. She's the director of the state's Medicaid program, and she spoke to WFAE's Michael Tomsic about the reasons for the overhaul and how it's designed to work.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory plans to make major changes to the state's Medicaid system. About 1.8 1.5 million North Carolinians who are low-income, young, elderly or disabled rely on Medicaid for health coverage.

McCrory said the current system is broken and inefficient.  He pointed to an audit that showed the state has been horrible at managing the cost of the program. He said the state hasn't been much better at managing the care people get, either.

  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.