NC Mental Health CEO Grilled By Oversight Committee

01 Dec 2016

North Carolina Health News reports that Cardinal CEO Richard Topping faced a grilling from legislators during an oversight committee meeting. The subject was his million dollar-plus compensation package:

Instead, the discussion during Tuesday’s meeting of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Medicaid and NC Health Choice turned into a hour-long interrogation of Richard Topping, the CEO of Cardinal Innovations, one of the state’s publicly funded mental health managed care organizations.

Legislators, and even the state’s Health and Human Services Secretary Rick Brajer, lit into Topping, criticizing his new million dollar-plus reimbursement package. They also criticized the way Topping has stretched the boundaries of legislative mandates and his agency’s use of public money.

Disabled North Carolinians face long waits for services, and Mr. Topping’s salary is double that of CEOs of the other LME/MCOs in the state. This is NC taxpayer’s money and, surely, NC taxpayers feel that to justify such a large compensation package, he must be going above-and-beyond his peers. That does not seem to be the case, however:

Brajer said that Topping is erroneous to compare himself and his staff’s salaries to those of hospitals or other parts of the healthcare market. He also noted other LME/MCOs are doing innovative and interesting projects, often moreso than Cardinal, while paying their leadership less.

“If you think about the population we serve, the most vulnerable… if they’re uninsured and literally they have nothing, or if they have Medicaid services, or whether they’re on a waiting list, whether they have a desire to have more services, we know there is so much more we can do with our LME/ MCOs,” he said, “I think it’s unconscionable to have a total compensation package of $1.2 million for an LME/MCO.”

It is encouraging that legislators and agency heads are noticing the inequities in the dispersement of taxpayer funds. But notice why people like Tommy Tucker (R-Waxhaw) are finally paying attention:

“It’s awful to have to have someone walk up to you at church or at a school football game or grocery store and show you their child that’s disabled, that needs services that private insurance won’t pay for any more and I can’t help them,” he said throwing up his hands.

“But then I’ve got to tell them, we’ve got a guy over here who serves you that’s got you on a five year waiting list and he’s making a million bucks.”

It takes pressure by the people to make change. Hold your elected leaders accountable. You pay them, so their jobs require them to work for you.

 

Let Mr. Brajer and Mr. Tucker hear from you.

Rick Brajer (HHS Secretary): Rick.rajer@dhhs.nc.gov

Tommy Tucker (NC State Senator): Tommy.Tucker@ncleg.net

 

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