Sunday, August 1, 2010

Oldest mental health advocacy group in NC to close due to financial problems

From The News & Observer:

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The financially troubled Mental Health Association of North Carolina is shutting down.

A brief statement released July 30 by the organization’s interim executive director, Christie Foppiano, confirmed that MHA is insolvent and shutting its doors.

“In the days ahead, MHA will be working to wind up its affairs and close,” the statement said. “MHA-NC is disappointed that it is unable to meet its financial commitments and continue to carry out its mission to promote mental health awareness, prevent mental illness and eliminate discrimination against people with mental illness.”

Incorporated in 1939, MHA is the oldest advocacy group for people with mental illness in the state and once one of North Carolina’s largest providers of housing and treatment for the population it served.

The true depth of the group’s financial problems in recent years, hidden from most of its employees and even its board members, came to light in May when MHA’s longtime executive director, John Tote, was appointed to head the state’s mental health system. Tote was forced to withdraw from the high-profile appointment less than a week later, after news reports that MHA faced more than $1.5 million in IRS liens related to years of unpaid payroll taxes.

On July 26, MHA lost its accreditation, cutting off the group's access to federal Medicaid reimbursements. Without the ability to bill Medicaid, the organizations fate was sealed.

The operation of MHA's remaining group homes and treatment programs across the state will be assumed by Easter Seals UCP of North Carolina.