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Opinion: Calling All Voters: Don’t wait until elections

By: Charlotte Smith

Your candidate may not have won the election, but that does not mean you do not have a voice. All voters near and far in Bladen County, in North Carolina, should be contacting their elected officials and asking for some accountability for our tax dollars.

Some of the biggest issues our county and state are facing right now are not Red versus Blue. Education, Healthcare and Economic Development are key issues all tax paying citizens should be aware.

I addressed the Bladen County Board of Commissioners this week about significant concerns uncovered after investigating our Mental Health and Behavioral Health Services during our Opioid Crisis Series on BladenOnline.com.

Everyone may not be aware of the effect the Opioid Crisis has on our communities, but it is staggering. One Commissioner Tuesday evening promised more would be done about the Opioid Crisis. He told me to listen out for stakeholders in the community to start saying, “I’m all in!”

Our community all our leaders should already be, “all in”! Granted, we do have some great leaders. Also, our elected officials cannot know all the issues our communities face. The policy makers need to hear from you, your friends, your family and me! We need to explain to our politicians what we are concerned about and why.

On the other hand, once the elected officials hear from their tax paying citizens, they need to take down the facts, search them out, and then take action. Education or Economic Development would be good subjects to talk with our Commissioners about, but currently our communities’ health has my attention.

We are lacking in healthcare. Some of the worst cases of healthcare issues I see are with the Mental/Behavioral Health Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organizations, or LME/MCOs; our Mental and Behavioral health managing companies. The managing companies are changing so fast no one is keeping track.

The services we are paying for are not being provided as they should be, but the executives of the LME/MCOs are receiving high wages. Some folks seem to be scamming the system. Shady “providers” offer low costs for services to win over the LME/MCOs, but do not open their doors and do not have working phone numbers. However, respectable providers are overcome with paperwork and often are squeezed for more shavings off their bottom line by these LME/MCOs. On top of all that, LME/MCOs are saying their network is closed. No new providers are being accepted.

I asked our commissioners Tuesday evening to help solve the mental health problems, and now I would like to ask you. Will you please contact your elected officials and ask them to stand against the LME/MCOs consolidations until we can see better outcomes with mental and behavioral health services?

I want to encourage everyone to please contact your elected officials about issues you view as important in our communities.  Let your voice be heard!

2017 Bladen County Elected Officials

Update:
After talking with some professionals in the MH/BH industry I have found what may be good solutions to the problems we are having with MCO/LME agencies.

1.  Have a committee of local providers, healthcare providers and commissioners making sure the MCO/LME companies are accountable and providing quality services.

2. Give the power to our County Commissioners not the State to pull out of MCO/LMEs and switch to a different managing company when we are not getting quality care.

3. Do not allow MCO/LME agencies to consolidate into  large companies because our communities will not have any options if the quality of care is lacking.

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