MONROE – Union County plans to notify the state of its intent to disengage with Cardinal Innovations to align with Partners Health Management for Medicaid-covered behavioral health services.
Deputy County Manager Michelle Lancaster told commissioners Oct. 19 that as many as 34,000 people receive such services in Union County. She was particularly concerned about foster children.
“Unfortunately, a lot of kids who enter the foster care system are in need of complicated and complex behavioral health services, so this is an area that is of utmost importance to the county and to me in my role with Union County.”
She has been in talks with Cabarrus County as well as Partners Health Management about issues Union County has had over the years with behavioral health. She said Union County better aligns with the values Partners Health Management represents.
Partners Health Management CEO Rhett Melton said those values entail putting citizens first by listening to their needs. And those needs differ by county.
“He and his organization are committed to being true community partners focused on community-based solutions, which I think we’re about here in Union County,” Lancaster said of Melton.
Lancaster said Rutherford County disengaged from another behavioral health provider to align with Partners Health Management in 2018. Union County will get public input on the move and launch a transition team with community partners and stakeholders.
Lancaster doesn’t anticipate a disruption in service. She expects enhanced services and additional service providers will be made available with the move.
County Manager Mark Watson called Lancaster a “champion for those who can not speak for themselves regarding behavioral health services.”
“I have watched her work tirelessly for many months being an advocate for foster care children who otherwise would seemingly slip through the behavioral health services crack – I use that term very generally,” Watson said. “She has been tenacious seeking those services in making sure not only the children receive what they are entitled to but also that their caregivers are up to speed on what they are entitled to and how to get those services.”
Commissioner Frank Aikmus said there have been nagging questions about the quality of services received by citizens.
“I am very proud of Michelle for her hard work and keeping her finger on the pulse of this situation, sourcing a good alternative,” Aikmus said. “I believe the partnership with Partners will serve the citizens of this county in a positive way for many years to come.”