Sunday, November 6, 2011

Durham-Wake Merger Would Create NC's Largest MCO

November 4, 2011

Durham, NC - A proposed merger between the Local Management Entities (LMEs) of Durham County and Wake County would create the state's largest Managed Care Organization (MCO) for public behavioral health and disability services based on population.

The Durham Center was selected by the NC Department of Health and Human Services to operate as an MCO under Medicaid 1915 (b)/(c) waivers effective January 1, 2013, serving Durham, Cumberland and Johnston counties. A merged Durham-Wake LME serving a four-county region including Wake would encompass a population of almost 1,690,000 residents.
A proposed merger agreement has been created and if approved by both parties, the merger would become effective July 1, 2012. The merged LME would begin managed care operations six months later. Durham County Commissioners will discuss the proposal on Monday, November 7 at their 9:00am regular work session.

The merged LME would be comprised of leadership and staff of both organizations with Ellen Holliman, currently Area Director of The Durham Center, serving as CEO. It would also have a new name and branding. Offices would be centrally located with satellite offices in both counties.

LME and other county government leadership from Durham and Wake have been engaged in discussions over the past year about how the two organizations could work together in some capacity. Significant similarities make The Durham Center and the Wake County LME logical partners for merger, with benefits anticipated for citizens, consumers, providers and taxpayers.

These include shared organizational values and missions and proven historical commitments to system of care philosophies and the use of evidence-based practices. The geographical proximity and similar urban compositions of the two counties create potential for pooling resources to address common challenges that can cause behavioral health costs to explode. Leadership and staffs of the two organizations have significant familiarity and existing working relationships with each other. In addition, there is major overlap of provider agencies serving consumers of both counties who frequently cross county lines.

"We are excited about the prospect of teaming with our colleagues in Wake County to help ensure that our citizens as well as those from Cumberland and Johnston counties receive the innovative, high-quality, recovery-focused behavioral health and disability services that result in positive outcomes," said Holliman. "We believe that all of our constituencies will benefit from the strength and viability that will result from the combined expertise and resources of the Durham and Wake LMEs."

For more information, contact Doug Fuller, director of Communications for The Durham Center at 919 560-7206.

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