Notification process causes unneeded stir

Apr. 14, 2013 @ 06:21 AM

Late last week the North Carolina Division of Medical Assistance (DMA) notified the Western Highlands Network that their contract with the state to administer the NC Medicaid Behavioral Health Plan was being terminated on July 31, 2013.

The manner of which this termination was communicated was, in no uncertain terms, disgraceful and highly unprofessional.

The DMA did not even afford the Executive Director of the Western Highlands Network the professional courtesy of a heads-up that the action was coming.

Instead, a press release was published and afterward, an email was sent to Western Highlands notifying them of the contract termination.

In the email, no reasons were given for the action and there is no clear direction as to who the program will be administered once the contract termination date has been reached.

This is the state government bureaucracy acting at its worst.

Even more troubling is DMA's insensitivity to the clients receiving the services provided by the program.

People suffering from mental illness need structure and certainty in their lives. They have difficulty dealing with stress.

Abrupt, unexplained changes in their lives can cause them to act out in behaviors that can be dangerous to themselves as well as to others.

These people need to know they can have access to their service providers when they need it and that they can get their medications without interruption.

Only a week later has the state come forward to say that the intent is to have a seamless transition in services and that there should be no issues for clients in receiving the services they require.

And, only a week later did the state admit the carelessness of their actions.

DMA may well have problems with how the Western Highlands Network is administering the Medicaid Behavioral Health Plan program, but there is no excuse for the way they chose to handle the termination of the contract.

Department of Health and Human Services — the department with direct oversight of DMA — has explained that their termination was without cause as the contract allows.

However, these actions are unacceptable for any state agency.

DMA should be compelled to offer a full apology for their unprofessional conduct to, not just Western Highlands, but more importantly to the clients of the Western Highlands Network who suffered undo disruption as a direct result of this blatant lack of common courtesy.

By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board


The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett, Dr. Shermaine Surratt and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark.