Stanly County approved to separate from Cardinal Innovations

STANLY COUNTY, N.C. — Another local county now has the green light to cut ties with Cardinal Innovations.

Channel 9 has reported for months about complaints from children waiting in emergency rooms for mental and behavioral care or people struggling to access substance abuse treatment.

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Cardinal oversaw the coordination of their care.

[ALSO READ: Two of NC’s biggest counties call on state to step in over Cardinal Innovations]

The state recently approved Stanly County’s request to switch to another company.

“When you’re in this position, you want someone to help you,” Angela Esposito, a mother, said. “You need some guidance. You don’t know what you’re doing. You need help, and they don’t. They don’t help you.”

Esposito’s son, Jake, 28, has autism and is on Medicaid. He qualifies for mental and behavioral services that Cardinal was supposed to coordinate.

The mother told anchor Allison Latos she has not been satisfied with Cardinal.

“They’re difficult to work with,” Esposito said. “They don’t call you back.”

Stanly County manager Andy Lucas said he’s pushed for more services, especially for children in foster care, for years with no progress. Lucas said that he should not have to get involved in the process.

“When our DSS director says we need help, there should be more of a team effort to figure out -- what do we do with this child?” Lucas said.

The state approved Stanly County’s request to switch from Cardinal to Partners in September.

Lucas believes the move will provide more access for children who need treatment.

“They need that intense, wraparound service, to help them mature and develop, so they can be able to finish school, obtain employment,” Lucas said.

Esposito said she wants her son to be happy and have the chance to experience more in life.

“I want him to live as independently as possible, because I’m not always going to be here,” the mother told Channel 9.

Cardinal Innovations statement:

Although disappointed, we are mostly concerned about the health and wellbeing of thousands of our members who are Stanly County’s most vulnerable residents – Medicaid recipients, the under- and uninsured, and those with intellectual and developmental disabilities and complex behavioral health conditions such substance use disorders.

Our highest priority during realignment will be continuity of care for our members in Stanly County, and we are committed to working closely with Partners to make that happen. We also understand the importance of relationships that members and their families have with care coordinators and providers, and we will strive to maintain those relationships wherever possible.

We remain concerned that disengagement will cause disruptions to care and stress when these individuals and families are at high risk from the lingering effects of the pandemic and impending changes in the state’s Medicaid system. In a few months, they will be forced to switch to an entirely new managed care plan.

Cardinal Innovations is proud of our work in Stanly County to improve health outcomes for members there. In response to county concerns, we made substantial improvements such as faster authorizations for care, faster service delivery and more network providers for children in foster care.

We remain fully committed to our members who live in Stanly County. They may be assured that we will continue to meet their needs until the realignment process is completed.

(WATCH: Mecklenburg County seeks to part ways with Cardinal Innovations)