Mental Health Crisis Intensifies - Hooker Odom Yawns

Secretary Carmen Hooker Odom and her antisocial lackeys at the Division of Medical Assistance decided last week that they needed another week to analyze the costs of Community Support services. Of course, they didn't see any need to analyze costs at all when Secretary Odom precipitously slashed funding by a third, making the cuts retroactive to March 1. Due to massive public pressure (that's you) the Odom retreated to a position of making the new unsustainable rate begin April 5 and continue until they set a new rate using their magickal After-the-Fact cost analysis.

The Asheville Citizen-Times and the head of Western Highlands Local Mgmt. Entity (the body that ostensibly coordinates services for many of the western counties) have both called for Secretary Odom's dismissal. Reminiscent of George W. Bush's "complete confidence" in Alberto Gonzales, Governor Easley has expressed his complete confidence in Secretary Odom. Her decision to slash rates to $40/hour for a service that breaks even at $53/hour sent the entire state network of private providers into a mad scramble for cash to meet payroll, to keep their doors open.

Hundreds of thousands of mental health service recipients have been affected by the instability brought on by Secretary Hooker Odom's caprice, and over a thousand providers are holding their breath until the Dept. of Health and Human Services releases the new rate. Without a substantial increase in the rate, you can look for providers across the state to close their doors.

Secretary Odom and Governor Easley have decided that, rather than take responsibility for the chaos, they'll blame mental health providers laboring under the system that Odom regularly overturns. They've been calling counselors, psychiatrists, and community support workers "abusers" that "abuse" the system. They're attacking the only people in the state who provide the services. They continue to misrepresent the results of the state audit, which discovered many cases of misuse among the 167 most suspicious companies in the state.

Secretary Odom audited only the companies who were billing outrageous amounts of Community Support. She audited only 1/6th of the service providers in the state, and she has yet to make any of her data open to public scrutiny. She sneakily released the slashed rate on the Thursday before Easter weekend, when no one could do anything about it. She is unconcerned about the 5/6th (or more) of providers who are performing Community Support services with integrity and efficacy. Her rate slash would guarantee worse service for clients, since the $40/hour rate wouldn't allow providers to hire Master's level practitioners. Hooker Odom has demonstrated contempt for recipients, providers, and the public at every turn in this process, and yet Governor Easley continues to give his full support to her irresponsible, dangerous leadership.

The Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services agreed last week to hold public hearings on this issue, but they have not scheduled the hearing. Budget negotiations are underway, and legislators are swamped with acres of maddening detail. The danger of the Mental Health Crisis being swept under the budgetary rug is great, and that's what I'm writing to ask you all to help with today.

Please contact the three Chairs of the Appropriations Subcommittee to encourage them to schedule this important hearing. Legislators need to understand the precipice at which we stand, the lives that will be forever affected by Hooker Odom's impulsive decision. They need to understand that we're last in the nation in mental health spending and first in the nation in hospitalizations. They need to understand that they'll spend twice as much on institutionalization as they do on prevention and maintenance. They need to understand that the impoverished twelve year old bipolar boy with the bipolar, disabled mother needs Community Support services in order to have a chance at succeeding. They need to understand that slashing the rate is the same as slashing at the lives of thousands and thousands of mentally ill North Carolinians.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPlease contact the Chairs to urge a date for the public hearing.

Rep. Beverly Earle - 919-715-2530
Rep. Verla Insko - 919-929-6115
Rep. Bob England - 919-733-5749

And, while you're at it, feel free to drop a note to...

Secretary Carmen Hooker Odom - (919-733-4534; fax: 919-715-4645)

Governor Mike Easley - (919-733-4240)

Lt. Governor Bev Perdue - (919-733-7350)

Deputy Director Mark Benton - (919) 855-4100; Fax - (919) 733-6608

Your local newspaper

Comments

thanks for the update, Screwy.

Emails to all the above on the way.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

Dear Carmen:

Dear Carmen.

It’s hard to know what you must have been thinking – if you were thinking at all - when you arbitrarily slashed funding to mental health provider all across the state. Sure there’s abuse in the system – there is in any system. But taking a chain saw to the mental health services safety net in North Carolina is not the right solution.

I’m writing to add my voice to those calling for you to either work on behalf of those you’re sworn to help – or resign from your job. I can only imagine what Michael would have to say about all this.

Very sad.

Hooker-Odum responds

While you have every right to your opinion, it is unfortunate that you chose to comment on something in which you do not have all the facts.

Ms. Hooker-Odum also chastised me for invoking her late husband's name in my criticism.

I first got to know Carmen Hooker-Odum through her husband, Michael Hooker, who was chancellor at UNC. They were a marvelous couple, partners in every way. I was wrong to mention him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Secretary is right about something else, though. I do not have all the facts.

And that is exactly the problem.

Write her back A

and invite her over to BlueNC to explain the facts that we are missing. I'll bet she has already taken a peak and knows who we are. Explain that we are a civilized crew and are really interested in knowing whatever it is that we need to know that would support her position.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

I think I'll pass

If I were her, I wouldn't respond to that request. I was wrong and hurtful to raise her husband's name. I'm afraid I've burned that bridge.

But you've apologized

AND BlueNC is not a site to easily overlook.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

Dear Governor Easley.

When I held a fundraiser for you years ago here in Chapel Hill, I stood beside a bright and inspiring leader on my back deck. And over the years, you've done some good things.

But your performance and callousness around mental health in North Carolina shows unthinkably bad judgment. You should ask for Carmen's resignation - and you should put the full weight of your office behind caring for those most in need among us.

On days like this, I'm embarrassed I supported you so strongly.

Dear Lt. Governor Perdue:

Dear Lt. Governor Perdue.

It appears our state has flat run out of responsible leadership, so I’m calling on you to raise your voice on behalf of those among us most in need. Governor Easley and Secretary Odom have taken a chainsaw to the mental health safety net in North Carolina, and all our so-called leaders are point fingers at each other saying it’s not their fault or responsibility.

Perhaps you can wade into this issue – as you did on the OLF issue – and show North Carolina what real leadership looks like. You’re not governor yet, but there’s no time like the present to show voters what taking a strong stand for the common good looks like.

I implore you to call on other state leaders to stop their cavalier shredding of mental health services and fully fund this very real need in our state.

Thank you for all you do.

Hi Verla.

Hi Verla.

I hope you’re doing all you can to make a public hearing on the mental health catastrophe happen. We’re in the midst of a slow-motion meltdown and it’s up to the legislature to investigate. Please act quickly.

Response from Senator Insko

The House HHS Appropriations Subcommiittee will hold a committee meeting to hear from all parties. It will not be a pure public hearing but rather a hearing to get the Dept, providers, consumers and others to respond to specific questions.

Let's make sure they all know which specific questions We the People would like answered!

Not Pure?

Yes, indeed.

Maybe someone's going to ask, "Do you now or have you ever thought that Carmen Hooker Odom was utterly, irredeemably incompetent and mean-spirited?"

Or maybe they'll ask whether we think it's a good idea to slash the rates for a vital service prescribed by the state, approved by the authorization entity, and at the core of a very fragile network of private providers.

Maybe they'll ask who in their right mind would destabilize the entire system and THEN get a cost analysis done.

Scrutiny Hooligans - http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us

Freedom

I feel more free already . Not being a party official has its advantages.

Like being able to tell you that I and my law firm had to threaten to sue Ms. Odom and the State DMA to get them to approve bone marrow transplants for two little boys (one 5, one 2) . The DMA arbitrarily declared their treatment experimental, based on the opinion of one bureaucrat, in the face of the considered opinion of every reputable pediatric oncologist/hematologist in the state.

But we won, and they backed down.

You can fight these people.

"85% of Republicans are Democrats who don't know what's going on." -Robert Kennedy, Jr.

"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." -Voltaire

Litigation?

I hope someone is already taking action to sue Odom on this issue, too. Screwy . . . anything happening on that front that you know of?

I dont email Republicans

And I wont be emailing Easley and Hooker Odom anytime soon.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Liddy 44 Brad 33

"Keep the Faith"

Check your email

n/t

yeah

Because, you know, sticking your head in the mud makes all the troubles go away.

"85% of Republicans are Democrats who don't know what's going on." -Robert Kennedy, Jr.

"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." -Voltaire

Why don't you email Republicans?

We have to talk to them, too, you know. Where I live, they are the only elected representatives I've got. This issue should be bi-partisan. Email them, Blue. Don't be that guy. Email them.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

The Push

Someone asked what else they could do. I'm not sure what will be most effective, but here's some ideas:

1. Call the head of your Local Management Entity. Ask them if they will stand with Western Highlands LME in calling for Hooker Odom's dismissal. The LINK is here to find your LME.

2. Call your local newspapers, ask to speak to the editor, and ask whether they plan to join the Asheville Citizen-Times Editorial Board in calling for Hooker Odom's dismissal.

3. Call your representative. Let them know that the mental health community is awaiting a champion. Short of that, let them know that their willingness to get in front of a TV camera and tell the public that the Hooker Odom debacle is unacceptable. Ask them to call for her dismissal or to make any public statement on the matter.

4. Ask your county officials if they're prepared to manage a meltdown of mental health services. Then ask them to call for the dismissal of Carmen Hooker Odom.

5. Ask your city and town councils if they're prepared. Rinse, repeat.

6. Write the Great American Novel, make billions, and give it to a foundation to administer mental health services to the state of North Carolina. Start now, we'll likely still need the help when you get done.

Thanks to all of you. A public hearing can generate the kind of heat we need to move Easley and Hooker Odom off of their unreasonable positions. That's why I focused on that action in my post, but the more you do the better off we'll be.

The mental health recipients in this state aren't broken people. There's poetry in them. It's real people, with families and favorite colors and cherished pets and generous spirits. They need our help, and Carmen Hooker Odom is telling them "No."

Scrutiny Hooligans - http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us

Screwy

the woman who made our quorum at our precinct meeting last week (yes...we finally did it! Even if it was too late.) works with the county mental health services. All I know is she was late to the meeting last week b/c she had a big project she was working on. I'll see if she has any feedback.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Emails sent

I don't have the stomach or patience for phone calls.

And I write such loving LTEs. I have no idea why not one of them has been printed. Why would that be?????
 
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.

Save the date

Monday, May 21st. there will be a Crucial Conversation luncheon/panel discussion on the topic of mental health in North Carolina. Check the NC Policy Watch web site next week for more details. Hope you can come, 11:30 am - 1:30pm at Exploris Museum, downtown Raleigh.

Crucial Conversation Luncheon

We hold regular luncheons where there is a panel of experts discussing issues of importance to North Carolina. We wrap up with a question/answer session. Previous luncheons have been about the death penalty, school construction bonds, affordable housing, and children's health insurance. We think it's time state government addressed the issue of mental health. We hope that by having this Crucial Conversation we can redirect the conversation away from 'he said' 'she said' into a more constructive debate. Our audience includes concerned citizens, legislators and the media.

"A more constructive debate"

That would be nice.

Do you think Secretary Hooker Odum will be there?

I doubt it

she will probably be too busy finding those facts that she seems to have misplaced.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Liddy 44 Brad 33

"Keep the Faith"

Sec. Odom has been invited

but she hasnt responded yet. Would it help for me to hold my breath?

If you held your breath

you might get brain damage and then you might get fired and then you might need mental health services . . .

and then you would be totally screwed.

Guess you better not.

It seems that a new drug

It seems that a new drug rehab treatment center is not the smart thing to invest in which such leaders that really don't care about the people... I can't understand how did she end up in a managerial position.