Medicaid waiver mental health program to start next year

Published 8:34 am Monday, April 25, 2011

Western Highlands to hire 54 new employees
Western Highlands will begin the Medicaid waiver program beginning Jan. 1, 2012 and has agreed to hire new employees to begin training.
Polk County Manager Ryan Whitson updated county commissioners about the program during the county’s April 4, 2011 meeting.
Whitson said the Western Highlands board recently agreed to hire 54 employees to run Medicaid and he pushed for the board to show that the monies are coming from Medicaid dollars.
The new employees will be hired in phases for training reasons.
Whitson also said all eight counties in the Western Highlands’ entity agreed to join the Medicaid waiver program.
Polk commissioners agreed in February for Western Highlands to join the Medicaid waiver program for mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse programs. The change will mean Western Highlands will administer Medicaid services, which is currently done by the state. The state contracts Medicaid services with ValueOptions and North Carolina has decided to phase the services back to local management entities (LMEs), like Western Highlands.
Because it approved the Medicaid waiver, Western Highlands is expecting approximately $93 million more in funding to provide the service.
Polk County approved a resolution in February to join the program. The resolution has language saying that Polk will not be financially responsible for any more funding to Western Highlands than it gives annually for services.
The resolution also calls for the eight county managers to continue to have oversight of the Western Highlands board and for monthly reports to be given. Whitson is the current chair of the Western Highland board.
Western Highlands consists of the counties of Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Transylvania and Yancey. Polk County joined the LME in 2002 after the state reform of mental health services required counties to form LMEs.

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