NC Counties Are Seeking to Cut Ties with Cardinal Innovations: What Does That Mean?

Posted by The Arc of North Carolina

Over the past several weeks, you may have seen the news that several counties in North Carolina have voted locally to cut ties with Cardinal Innovations and are awaiting a decision from the state. Union, Cabarrus, and Stanly Counties have identified Partners Behavioral Health as the entity where their constituents would receive services. Forsyth County officials are considering a formal split as well but have not formally acted. Orange County has also voted to dissolve ties with Cardinal Innovations. Other counties in the Cardinal catchment area may be considering a change as well.


Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary, NC Department of Health and Human Services, has been communicating with Cardinal Innovations regarding the situation and has asked Cardinal’s leadership to create a corrective action plan. NC DHHS will review all requests from counties asking to dissolve their partnerships with Cardinal Innovations.


Many people receiving services under Cardinal Innovations may be wondering how this might affect them. While we don’t have all of the answers, we thought it would be a good idea to tell you what we do know so that you make informed decisions, if needed.


Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions is a Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organization (LME/MCO) currently operating in 22 North Carolina counties. They provide services and supports to those with mental health, substance abuse, and intellectual/developmental disabilities. North Carolina Health and Human Services contracts with LME-MCOs across the state, including Cardinal Innovations. The contract allows for Cardinal Innovations to receive money in exchange for arranging habilitative, behavioral and healthcare services.


There have been many complaints from organizations to local county commissioners stating Cardinal Innovations is delaying services and not providing agreed-upon support. In mid-October, Union and Cabarrus counties voted to cut ties with Cardinal Innovations. At the beginning of November, we learned that the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners, the Orange County Board of Commissioners, and the Stanly County Board of Commissioners also voted to dissolve their partnerships with Cardinal.


We’ve received many questions from families that we serve asking what this means for them. We want to reassure the individuals and families who are receiving services from a Cardinal Innovations provider in these counties. At this time, we do not know any more than what has been shared in the media. Most importantly, this plan still needs approval from the NC Department of Health and Human Services and would not be put in place immediately.


The Arc of North Carolina will continue to provide supports and services to those currently being served by all LME/MCOs, including Cardinal Innovations. For your information, we also have a contract in place with Partners Behavioral Health Management.

Once we have more information, we will share it with you. If you have questions, please feel free to contact our office at 1.800.662.8706. You can also check out this link on Cardinal’s website.