Why were the Wake County Human Services clients not given their right of "choice," which was greatly touted under the privatization plans by NC DHHS in 2001? Many clients were not even informed of the pending changes, let alone given their choice of provider within their Person Centered Plans. Some got notices undated and with no name signed just last week
The main complaint against the system where local "area programs" operated by the counties provided care for mental health, developmental disabilities, and addiction clients was that there was no choice. Which, in fact, was not true. Area Programs had hired staff, but they also contracted with local non-profits to provide care in many cases.
Now Wake County is the last program to hand off its direct care of clients to private providers, who are managed by the Managed Care Organization (MCO), Alliance Behavioral Care of Durham. The clients with mental health issues were assigned--they did not choose--either UNC Healthcare or Monarch, a private non-profit provider.
These are top-notch providers in my opinion, but it still does not change the fact that informed choice by the clients was not available. And for other disability services in Wake County, no choices are available. Only one provider for each category was approved to provide services by Alliance MCO.
There are many clients rights issues involved. These clients are not commodities to be divided up by Alliance MCO to private providers.
There is also the question of legal liability for those without appointments—800 of them. I hope Wake County and Alliance Behavioral Care MCO have their liability insurance policies paid up.
As a clinician from UNC said about this fiasco, "What we needed here was some case management...oh, yeah--NC doesn't provide that service any more to mental health clients."
For those who missed my previous post of the WUNC story on the transfer of services, here is the link to listen to their program from Friday morning.
I will have more on this issue in a post in a day or two. Having trouble getting the leaders at Wake County and Alliance Behavioral Health to respond to calls and emails.