Aug. 14--Five local providers of behavioral-health services have taken a six-figure reduction in their revenue stream for fiscal 2012-13 as part of the overall loss of nearly $1.7 million in federal block-grant money.
CenterPoint Human Services said 48 providers are affected by the funding cutback, which is retroactive to July 1.
CenterPoint, based in Winston-Salem, receives taxpayer funding as a local management entity (LME) of behavioral-health services in Davie, Forsyth, Rockingham and Stokes counties.
The agency said providers of local mental-health and developmental-disability services have taken an average 8 percent funding cut, totaling $1.05 million. It already had projected a $722,553 cut in federal substance-abuse prevention and treatment block grants.
Taking the biggest hit is Partnership for a Drug Free N.C. Inc. at $258,227. It provides substance-abuse services.
Next was Old Vineyard Behavioral Health Services at $237,250, followed by Majors at $212,414, Addiction Recovery Care Association (ARCA) at $121,605, and Special Children's School at $114,231.
For some providers, the reduction was as little as $400.
It's likely that many providers will have to eliminate jobs to adjust to the funding shortfall.
The reduction comes as CenterPoint tries to secure one-time funding from the four counties to help pay for its transition to a managed-care organization (MCO) by Jan. 1. Its budget for fiscal 2012-13 is $93.2 million, according to its website.
The primary goal is combining the management of Medicaid and state funds at the community level to reduce costs and add more accountability and consistency to behavioral-health reform. It allows MCOs to operate with fewer restrictions.
Laurie Coker, a local advocate and director of the N.C. Consumer Advocacy, Networking and Support Organization, said she is disappointed and disturbed that CenterPoint "arbitrarily shifted" a full third of the loss of funds from the federal block grant from one behavioral-health sector to another.
The state informed CenterPoint on July 13 that it would receive $1.5 million less from the federal block grant, including $966,730 for intellectual and development disabilities and $84,057 for mental-health services.
However, last Wednesday, CenterPoint Executive Director Betty Taylor -- after consulting "with community leaders and advocacy groups" -- lowered the reduction for developmental-disability provider contracts to $633,474, while raising the reduction for mental-health provider contracts by an additional $333,256 for a total of $417,313.
Taylor said "the service systems for all of the three disability groups must remain stable." She said substance abuse providers could not "withstand another reduction, nor could the intellectual/developmental disability service community bear the full brunt of its designated de-allocation."
Coker says she doesn't want the three behavioral-health categories to feel forced to compete for the diminished funding.
Yet, she questioned in a recent letter to county and state officials why Taylor shifted the funding so that mental-health providers absorbed more of the cuts, and which community leaders and advocates supported that decision.
"Good government should do its level best to ensure there are fewer funding and service disparities across the community of persons needing services," Coker said.
"Never should resources be taken from the other disability areas that are already underfunded and surely underdeveloped in order to favor another. This is what has just happened at CenterPoint."
CenterPoint wants $2 million in one-time funding, including $1.53 million from Forsyth. The agency said it would pay the money back over five years.
The possibility that CenterPoint would cut funding for services to pay for MCO transition costs has been the main worry of some local advocates and providers at a time when more people with behavioral-health issues lack insurance.
The state expects the MCOs to pay upfront for the Medicaid waiver expenses before it begins to receive next year the reimbursement funding necessary to sustain the expenses. The state did something similar in 2011 to providers who sought status as a Critical Access Behavioral Health Agency (CABHA), with many not qualifying for lack of resources.
Stokes' board approved CenterPoint's$148,127 request and Davie's board approved an $89,270 request, said Penny Casto, the agency's consumer and community affairs manager. She said Rockingham's board has not addressed the request for $228,579.
CenterPoint says the one-time funding is necessary to close a potential $2 million shortfall in its $3.7 million MCO transition cost.
About 71 percent of CenterPoint's MCO transition costs, or $2.64 million, are for administrative expenses, including the hiring of 86 full-time employees and the buying or leasing of office equipment, office space, training and company vehicles.
(c)2012 Winston-Salem Journal (Winston Salem, N.C.)
Visit Winston-Salem Journal (Winston Salem, N.C.) at www2.journalnow.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services