Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Victory, for now, for Dan Bishop and Mecklenburg


Good news arrived today for Mecklenburg County taxpayers, mental health patients and scores of newly hired county employees.

The county won a reprieve from an earlier order that stripped Mecklenburg of its control of more than $200 million in federal Medicaid money. Now it has a second chance to show that it can successfully launch a new operation to administer that money under new state rules.

N.C. Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos reversed her earlier ruling that had confirmed control of the program would move to Cardinal Innovations Health Solutions in Kannapolis. Mecklenburg will have to be up and running by March 1, and twice before then will have to demonstrate to an outside consultant that its preparations are on track.

Wos’s decision is good news for Mecklenburg. The county stood to waste $3 million it had already spent preparing, and dozens of employees faced being let go. Most importantly, residents with mental health, substance abuse and developmental disabilities might now continue to be part of a system that is overseen locally. Credit goes to Charlotte lawyer Dan Bishop, who represented Mecklenburg in its dealings with the state; to top county staff; and to commissioners, who in a unanimous, bipartisan vote decided to fight the original order.

There are at least two risks still pending. The first is that as part of the settlement, Mecklenburg agreed to give up the program, and its rights to appeal, if the outside consultant finds the county is running behind. The second is that taxpayers could be at risk if the county keeps the program but then fails to monitor Medicaid claims closely enough. The state’s whole effort exists, after all, to rein in costs.

It’s not surprising that Mecklenburg commissioners learned Wednesday’s news not from Bishop or county staff but from reporters asking questions about it. The county’s communications troubles continue. On this day, however, applause over the outcome drowns out criticism of how it was communicated. 
-- Taylor Batten

3 comments:

Wiley Coyote said...

"Good news for taxpayers"?

Where do you think the federal funds come from?

Reggie Mantle said...

I still don't see how this is good news for Mecklenburg taxpayers.

Why would we want county staff in control of 200 million dollars?

Pants on Fire said...

"It’s not surprising that Mecklenburg commissioners learned Wednesday’s news not from Bishop or county staff but from reporters asking questions about it."

This is NOT accurate.