03/23/05 — Eastpointe directors discuss policy changes

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Eastpointe directors discuss policy changes

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on March 23, 2005 1:53 PM

Eastpointe's board of directors spent three hours Tuesday putting new policies in place, and discussing plans on how to meet the requirements of new state mental health laws.

The agency was formed in July 2003 with the merger of the Wayne County Mental Health Center and the Duplin-Sampson-Lenoir center. It provides mental health, developmental disability and substance abuse services in the four counties.

Those services, however, will be provided by private individuals or firms. State law requires the local agencies to stop providing direct services by 2007.

Eastpointe is evolving into what the state calls a "local management entity," or LME. It will remain the starting point for people seeking help, but the therapists, counselors and other service providers will be contractors, not Eastpointe employees.

New state mental health laws will change the treatment of disabled and mentally ill people by using more community-based resources and less institutionalized care. Eastpointe's main responsibilities will be access and quality of care, so the LME will keep employees who primarily work on those areas.

Board member Floyd McCullouch asked if programs, such as the crisis intervention program in Wallace, would be moved to another area under the new laws.

"We won't move that, will we?" McCullouch asked.

Dr. Jack St. Clair, the area director for Eastpointe, said that eventually that services would be contracted out to outside providers.

"The area program has to develop local capacities to serve our people," St. Clair said. "We can't ship them all over the state."

He said that Eastpointe would choose the providers, and would maintain a strong presence in all four counties although there "will probably be a few services that can't be replicated in all four counties."

McCullouch asked if that meant that Eastpointe might still have to provide some of the services in the future.

"If we find that there are some services we can't find providers for, we can ask for an exception," St. Clair said. "We just must make a compelling argument for an exception if we can't out-source."

Eastpointe is currently identifying private practitioners eligible to enroll with the Division of Medical Assistance to directly bill for Medicaid services. Eastpointe will be required to have a memorandum of agreement with these private practices and solo practices that wish to provide services to Medicaid-eligible consumers.

Policies passed by the board Tuesday included the monitoring of providers, disclosure of information released, restrictive interventions, and tracking court orders.

The transition to the new contracted services is expected to be complete by July 1, 2007.