Center to end Medicaid coverage for several area counties

POSTED: 6:41 PM Mar 14 2013   UPDATED: 10:38 PM Mar 14 2013
ONSLOW COUNTY -

Thousands of Medicaid patients in Onslow and Carteret Counties are being told they need to find a different health provider.

Coastal Carolina Neuropsychiatric Center officials say they're sad to announce that as of April 22, the business will stop treating patients who rely on Medicaid and live in certain Eastern North Carolina counties.  They say it's due to a change in the state's Medicaid program.

"If paperwork comes before patients, I think that's very sad," said Jimmie Hooks, a Medicaid patient at CCNC.

Hooks visits the center for counseling, and he'll be affected by this change. He received a notice announcing Medicaid will no longer be accepted at CCNC from patients who live in Onslow, Carteret, Brunswick, Pender and New Hanover Counties.

Dr. Ash Mikhail has never turned patients like Hooks away.  But he says the change in the state's Medicaid program resulted in overwhelming paperwork required for each patient, and the CCNC was forced to put more emphasis on administrative work rather than treating the patients.

Doctors say CCNC has left the CoastalCare network, the company that manages the funds for public mental health. This will cause CCNC to turn away more than 2,000 patients just in Onslow and Carteret Counties who rely on Medicaid.

"It was a very tough decision for us," Mikhail said. "Because we have patients we've been treating for over nine years, and it's been very hard and heartbreaking to do."

Hooks has become close with his counselor and says he will make whatever sacrifices he has to do to continue seeing her.

"I've been with her for 10 years, and if I have to go without eating a day or two, I would do that to have the money to pay to go to see her."