MECKLENBURG COUNTY, NC – Cardinal Innovations announced Tuesday that a merger with Vaya Health is in the works.
Vaya Health managing services for patients in 22 counties in North Carolina, will assume responsibility for coordinating services and support for Cardinal Innovations members when approved by the NC Department of Health and Human Services and district officials as per the press release.
The announcement comes as Mecklenburg County tries to join the ranks of several local counties that have severed ties with Cardinal over allegations of suspicion and lack of care.
Channel 9 has been reporting problems with Cardinal Innovations for months. District leaders say the group is failing as some children wait in emergency rooms for more than 200 days to be admitted to an inpatient treatment facility. Other people have difficulty receiving substance abuse treatment. The county wants to switch to Alliance Health, but needs government approval first.
The district names numerous reasons for the withdrawal. Here are a few:
- A fragmented discharge planning system for people with behavioral problems
- Lack of suitable places for youth and adult wards
- Delayed treatment approvals
In September, Stanly County was approved to cut ties with Cardinal after the district chief said he had been pushing for more services – especially for foster children – with no progress for years.
Union and Cabarrus counties also voted not to do business with Cardinal because of similar concerns.
The Mecklenburg district will hold a vote on Tuesday evening to decide whether to part with Cardinal. If the vote for the split was canceled, it would not take effect immediately. The state has yet to sign the vote and the district leaders will make public comments for 60 days.
“I think it took long enough,” said Commissioner Pat Cotham. “Sometimes you have to fish or catch bait.”
State officials believe Cardinal’s decision to merge with Vaya was due to large counties such as Mecklenburg and Forsyth planning to part ways with the company.
The company announced in a press release that the merger in July prepared North Carolina’s conversion to Medicaid Managed Care. Both managed care organizations said they were preparing to evolve their operations to provide fully integrated care for people with severe mental illness, severe emotional disorder, severe substance use disorder, intellectual / developmental disability, or traumatic brain injury to offer.
“We believe we can all benefit when we work together to meet the needs of our communities,” said Brian Ingraham, President and CEO of Vaya Health. “Our number one priority during this transition will be to support members, providers and counties and avoid any interruption in supply. We remain committed to offering a successful public service option as a bespoke plan. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to empower the public model, support our county partners, and help even more North Carolinians on their health and wellbeing journey. “
The merger is expected to be completed by June 30, 2022. This would be Vaya’s fourth merger.
Cardinal Innovations made the following statement on Channel 9:
“Our greatest hope is that Mecklenburg County really listens to our mutual consumers in Mecklenburg County during the process – those who will be most affected by change – and that any actions they take reflect the will of their constituents. We believe that Vaya can be a strong partner for the district and her focus on local relationships and local presence would be welcome in Mecklenburg. “
NCDHHS posted the following statement on Channel 9 after announcing the merger:
“DHHS has been actively committed to ensuring that the thousands of consumers currently served by Cardinal Innovations continue to receive the support and services they need. The decision by County of Mecklenburg to vote in favor of Cardinal Innovations’ exit and the recent vote by County of Forsyth to break away from Cardinal created uncertainty and instability for the Cardinal organization and those they serve. We appreciate that the boards of directors at Vaya and Cardinal are working quickly to reach a consolidation agreement to provide stability to benefit recipients and families. We will work closely with the boards and staff of each organization to better understand and work on the details of this transition.
Its a lot to do. The DHHS will continue to work with the districts that requested the withdrawal and will work with the NCACC to determine if additional districts are considering withdrawing and the best process for further development. We will actively involve consumers, families and providers throughout the process. “
(WATCH: Mecklenburg district wants to part with Cardinal Innovations)
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