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George Cannella Recognized for Helping Providers with Member Specific Agreements

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — December 13, 2019 — 4 min read
Before working for Cardinal Innovations Healthcare, Projects Care Coordinator George Cannella taught elementary special education classes, where he saw firsthand how important it is for members to get the right care at the right time.

“I was a teacher for almost 10 years,” Cannella said. “A large part of that time, I taught elementary special education. It was there that I saw the unmet mental health needs of many children and felt called to do something tangible to address it.”

Cannella, who joined Cardinal in 2016, now works with Care Coordination and ensures the documentation required to provide services to members is completed accurately, reducing the chances of delays for members.

“In my role, I work with out-of-network providers developing their understanding of the­ clinical documentation; the technical components, which if not understood, can become a barrier to care,” Cannella said. “Not understanding something is frustrating and draining. The provider is working face-to-face with our member ­­­­– that’s where their energy needs to go.”

Cannella took on the role of MSA Projects Care Coordinator in January 2018, addressing Member Specific Agreements (MSAs) for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder (MHSUD) Care Coordination. Since that time, his role has expanded to covering all of Care Coordination for Member Specific Agreements and he is now on the MSA Core Team, which celebrated its one year anniversary in October.

From February 2018 to March 2019, after only one year doing this job, Cannella completed 98 MSAs without a single Unable to Process (UTP). In the year prior to his position being created, MHSUD Care Coordination had a 44% UTP rate with MSAs.

“George views his role as one to help a provider understand everything so the member can be served. He follows up with providers and through the process, he helps them understand changes,” said Morgan Lavender, MHSUD Care Coordination Manager.

Lavender said Cannella helps train providers on Person-Centered Plans (PCPs) and goes step-by-step on how to complete Treatment Authorization Request (TARs). “His goal is always to serve the member, and to serve the provider the quickest way he can,” she said. “George is committed to our members getting the right care at the right time, and ensuring our providers know what they need to be successful. He walks internal staff through the processes, and never waivers in his commitment to helping others.”

Cannella has taken on trainings across all of Cardinal Innovations’ regions, through both MHSUD and IDD Care Coordination. He has worked to train others on the new MSA process, common errors, things to consider, and the Exceptions process. He has had people shadow him and worked to develop relationships across internal departments for improved understanding. He has spent significant time learning IDD Care Coordination, the waiver and the budgets. He has assisted both Network Management and Utilization Management when they needed help getting a member the care they need.

Cannella said he’s inspired by the “triumph of the human spirit to overcome hardship,” he said. “It is profoundly inspiring to read about, or more directly, to work with an individual who has overcome trauma and various adversities to accomplish their dreams.”  

When he’s not working, Cannella enjoys spending time with his wife and two children. He and his wife met as teachers when they lived in Florida. They both taught English as a Second Language in South Korea before settling in Charlotte, N.C.

Cannella said he also is active in a local non-profit called Be There Dad. Its mission is to increase male engagement in the schools. “I’m the leader of the chapter at my children’s school,” he said.

“(Working in behavioral health) isn’t a job as much as it becomes a lifestyle about increasing ones understanding of others and yourself,” Cannella said. “To that end, most of my hobbies have that in common. I love to travel, watch documentaries and meet people who have different life experiences from my own.”
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