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County And Carolinas HealthCare Reach Settlement

Mecklenburg County and Carolinas HealthCare have reached an out-of-court settlement regarding a lawsuit over issues relating to mental health services. The meat of the settlement revolves around the CMC-Randolph behavioral health hospital. Mecklenburg County owns it, but Carolinas HealthCare (or CHS) has managed it since 1986. And in 2000, the county signed a contract to pay CHS nearly $22 million per year to the hospital to provide care for mental health patients. But last July, county commissioners voted to end those payments, claiming that CHS was not providing the county with certain patient data per the contract. CHS countered that they were providing all the information the contract required. Then CHS filed a lawsuit, claiming breach of contract. Since then, CMC-Randolph has been in full operation, and CHS has absorbed the losses. Under the settlement, Mecklenburg County will transfer ownership of CMC-Randolph over to CHS. So, CHS gets the flexibility to run the hospital as it wants, and Mecklenburg County won't have to pay for the services. Mecklenburg County manager Harry Jones believes the settlement is reasonable. "Yeah, we do feel it's a fair compromise for the citizens of this community," says Jones. "Regrettably, it had to come to a lawsuit that we have settled, but I think that it's a fair conclusion to this chapter in our lives." The settlement also covers the Mecklenburg County Public Health Department, which CHS manages. That contract is schedule to end June 30, 2013. The county must give 90 days notice if it wants to end the contract sooner.