WJTV News Channel 12 - Patients unhappy with ECBH merger

Patients unhappy with ECBH merger

Patients unhappy with ECBH merger

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GREENVILLE, N.C. - An effort to improve mental health services in Eastern North Carolina takes a huge step. The state is merging the East's 3 managed care organizations (MCO). This merge means a lot to providers and patients, many of whom are not happy about it.

“The transition will not be seamless by any means.” Kimberly Watkins and her family are alarmed to hear the management care organization serving her sister Kayla is merging with two other MCOs. They think this is a disaster waiting to happen.

“We saw the transition from the smaller companies to ECBH and it was a nightmare.”

On Tuesday the Department of Health and Human Services announced the merger between East Carolina Behavioral Health, Coastal Care and Eastpointe, citing cost and better access to care.

You can't be efficient and be cost effective with these human beings. We asked ECBH's Executive Director Leza Wainwright to talk on camera about the merger. She wasn't available but she did release this statement.

“ECBH supports the goal of a sustainable Medicaid program that provides the highest quality, most effective care for the people it serves.  We believe that consolidating the LME/MCOs in Eastern NC will help to achieve that goal."

Bob Thompson the Advocacy Chair for the Disability Advocates and Resource Center compared this merger to infusing a healthy body with a virus. But the state Department of Health and Human Services believes the move is in line with Governor McCrory's vision for the future of Medicaid.

“Our focus is to use our existing resources. Find out what is working in our state. Find those practices and make sure that those practices are spread across the state,” DHHS Spokesman Ricky Diaz said.

Diaz says there is no plan on when or how this will happen. At this point the state hasn't announced if people will be losing their jobs too.

Anchor Jeff Varner learned Eastpointe wasn’t in agreement with the merger. A source told him, the state forced them to agree with the state. 
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