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Cardinal Innovations advocates for members and system stability, believes Commissioner vote doesn’t consider ALL members

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — March 04, 2021
Charlotte, NC, Mar. 4, 2021 - Cardinal Innovations recognizes the important duty that the Board of County Commissioners have to vote on behalf of their represented communities. The commissioners’ vote to pursue transition to a new managed care organization is disheartening knowing that it will cause stress to the healthcare system for residents of Forsyth County, particularly those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

“We’re very disappointed in this result and concerned for the vulnerable residents that this decision will impact the most. Two million North Carolina Medicaid enrollees, including almost 70,000 in Forsyth County, will have their Medicaid benefits managed differently beginning in just four months. All while we are trying to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, said Trey Sutten, CEO of Cardinal Innovations. “The scale and impact of the coming changes is unprecedented in the state. Creating further confusion and disruption to individuals who have the highest medical and behavioral health needs poses a risk their health and wellness.”

Cardinal Innovations partners with more than 30 community organizations and nonprofits in Forsyth County, and has invested over $446,000 into the community since 2018. The Highland Avenue Wellness Center had 6,000 visitors from the behavioral health and IDD community last year, participating in activities from bingo and arts and crafts to nutrition education and exercise classes. “We’re proud of the work that we’ve done throughout Forsyth County to improve health outcomes for our members, and we remain committed to the County. When they voiced concerns, we responded, over-delivered on results and continue to improve every day,” said Sutten.

Cardinal Innovations voluntarily created a plan of action in response to county concerns and has been reporting progress on the plan since December of last year. Improvement includes revamping processes to ensure that members receive services faster, expanding the network that serves children involved with the foster care system, and offering three million dollars over the next two years – which Forsyth County declined - to serve as a bridge until the Department of Health and Human Services implements their new statewide foster care program.

“For many of our members and families, the relationship they have with their Care Coordinator is a key element in determining how well they’re able to navigate what can be a very complicated service system,” said Jessica Moore, Head of Care Coordination for Intellectual Developmental Disabilities (IDD) at Cardinal Innovations. “These are relationships that have taken years to develop. Transitioning to a new care coordinator is going to be incredibly challenging under any circumstances, and further complicated due to the pandemic.”

While a majority of the Board of County Commissioners voted to disengage, we were thankful for the support and confidence of Chairman David R. Plyler, who voted to stay with Cardinal Innovations. Other members expressed uncertainty over the path forward, “I have no concrete evidence that Partners will be any better,” said Commissioner Don Martin.

The commission’s decision is one step in the lengthy and intricate disengagement transitioning process. At this time, we urge the commission to fully engage in the public comment period before sending their formal disengagement package to the Secretary for consideration and final decision.

Public comments on this disengagement plan are encouraged and can be mailed to:
Forsyth County Manager’s Office, ATTN: LME/MCO Realignment 201 N. Chestnut Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27101

About Cardinal Innovations Healthcare
Cardinal Innovations Healthcare is a specialized health plan and care coordinator for Medicaid recipients and the under- and uninsured in North Carolina with complex behavioral and special needs. Cardinal Innovations connects people with treatment and support for mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and substance use disorders through a network of providers in their communities. The organization serves this important role in 20 counties. In 2020, Cardinal Innovations administered nearly $850 million for the care of 825,000 people in the region and invested more than $50 million to improve support systems and to respond to the pandemic. Cardinal Innovations also works with local governments to address public health concerns such as homelessness, suicide prevention, child welfare and domestic violence through education, engagement and outreach.

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