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Cooper Proposes Overhaul To Medicaid Program


Governor Roy Cooper's administration is proposing an overhauled Medicaid program that would combine behavioral health and primary health care.  
The state legislature passed a Medicaid reform bill in 2015 that moves away from reimbursing providers for every service to paying a flat amount for each patient.  

Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen says merging physical and behavioral health care would improve outcomes.

“The best clinical evidence and evidence-based work is really to approach folks as a whole person, and not to have their behavioral health siloed off from the rest of the health care that they are getting,” Cohen said.

It's not clear what that would mean for organizations known as LME MCO's, which oversee behavioral health care under Medicaid. The proposal also calls for expanded coverage. It would need approval from the legislature.

“What already exists are the LME-MCO's. Building upon that is really what we're talking about with tailored plans,” Cohen said. “I think we can make improvements and build upon things that are working as well as make adjustments where things aren't working.”

Those organizations have recently come under scrutiny after a state auditor's report said CEOs at Cardinal Health took more than a million dollars in authorized salaries. Cardinal disputed that finding.

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
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