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Official Press Release

Contact: Tom Lawrence

Date: July 9, 2008

Community Support Services costs drop for fourth straight quarter

RALEIGH – Costs for the Mental Health Community Support Program have dropped for the fourth consecutive quarter.

On July 7, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dempsey Benton notified the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services that expenditures for the Community Support Program were down 39 percent over the first quarter of fiscal year 2007-08.

“We believe our aggressive efforts to manage services for medical necessity and overall program costs have positively resulted in steady reductions over each of the four quarters of this fiscal year,” Benton said. “Our first quarter expenditure was $262.8 million and by the fourth quarter we had cut the costs to $160.7 million.”

Benton also reported that an ongoing review by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) of the Community Support Program has resulted in the release of more than $124.7 million in deferred payments to the state by the federal agency.  On April 22, CMS notified the state Medicaid program of a deferral of payment of $175,244,191 for the Community Support Program until CMS was satisfied that abuses were not occurring within the program.

“We have worked with the CMS staff and provided them with significant documentation on the program,” Benton said. “Although they are still working on their review, CMS has already adjusted the payment deferral from $175.2 million to $50.5 million.  Their review is ongoing and we await their final disposition, but we feel it is a good sign to have it adjust down by $124.7 million at this point.”

Since last August, the Division of Medical Assistance and the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services have worked jointly with providers and other stakeholders across the state on clarifying rules and delivery of services. Other corrective actions already in place include a moratorium on new providers and imposition of administrative sanctions, such as withholding of payments and terminations from the North Carolina Medicaid program.

Community Support was designed to assist mental health and substance abuse service recipients with community-based skill building and coping abilities. A series of audits and reviews by DHHS over the past year have uncovered inconsistencies with the quality of Community Support care and a misunderstanding of the intent of the service by some providers.





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