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There are many options available for living or for a vacation in the United States but one that many people consider is North Carolina. It is a beautiful state with plenty to offer, regardless of whether you want to live in the city or if you are interested in spending some time in the country. In addition, the weather seems to be quite temperate in comparison to the cold northern states or the hotter southern states. It really is the best of both worlds.

For many people, a visit to North Carolina means heading up to the mountains and enjoying some time in the wilderness. It seems as if we are plugged in at all times and this can make it difficult for us to enjoy some quiet time to ourselves. The North Carolina wilderness is vast and it is also quite beautiful. If you are looking for an opportunity to get away from it all and to give your mind a real break, the North Carolina countryside is the place to be.

You might also want to consider spending some time on the water as well. Regardless of whether you are heading to the coast or if you are more interested in a vacation on a river or a lake, there are plenty of options available in the state. Just make sure that you plan your vacation in advance so you have everything you need for the perfect trip.

When you live on the East Coast, North Carolina is easy to access from either the northern states or the southern states. If you live west of the Mississippi, it may be to your benefit to fly into a nearby area, perhaps in Charlotte, and spend some time enjoying all that the area has to offer. It truly is a beautiful place to be.

A new document provides more detail on how the reformed program will deliver care, but there are still plenty of questions, in particular about how mental health will fit in.

By Rose Hoban

More than a year after the Department of Health and Human Services sent off a tentative plan to federal regulators to overhaul the state’s Medicaid program, state officials unveiled details of the plan.

A 77-page report released Tuesday morning fleshes out the bones of the plan submitted last June to federal regulators that describes how North Carolina plans to change Medicaid from a fee-for-service program to one where insurance companies get paid a per-person, per-month fee and are instructed to provide better patient outcomes.

Mandy Cohen in her office on the Dorothea Dix campus. Photo credit: Rose Hoban

“We have been in a process of implementing the law that was passed by the General Assembly… to transition the Medicaid program to managed care,” said HHS Sec. Mandy Cohen, referring to the 2015 law that transforms Medicaid.

“This really fleshes out a lot more of the program design and really gives you an end-to-end look at what we think Medicaid managed care can look like in North Carolina,” Cohen told reporters.

The hallmark of the plan Cohen presented Tuesday is the integration of physical health care with mental health care. But that will be complicated.

Sweeping changes, aggressive timelines

When the legislature passed House Bill 372 in September 2015, it set in motion sweeping changes to Medicaid, which provides care for about 2 million children, some of their parents, people with disabilities and poor elderly who live in nursing homes. Last year, North Carolina spent just under $3.7 billion to provide all that care.

A comment period for the plan runs through Sept. 8. Instructions on how to comment here.

One point of contention between members of the Senate and House was the fate of North Carolina’s mental health managed care entities, known as LME/ MCOs, which currently provide care for some of the most difficult-to-treat people with mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities.

House members pushed to keep the LME/MCOs, while members of the Senate wanted to scrap them more quickly. The compromise was that they would remain in place for four years beyond implementation of the new Medicaid program.

But the proposed program design released this week says that in year two of managed care implementation, LME/MCO contracts would be terminated.

The speed of the proposed changes worried Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Cary) who helped write the legislation creating LME/MCOs.

“I’m very concerned at the speed at which the department wishes to operate,” Dollar said. “The lack of specifics in their proposal is a recipe for a repeat of what we saw in 2001 when a community-based system that existed at the time was thrown out without full appreciation of what it takes to develop a viable behavioral health system.”

Dollar argued that since the launch of the LME/MCOs in 2013, North Carolina’s mental health system has achieved some stability, after a decade of near-constant change.

His concerns were echoed by Disability Rights NC’s policy head Corye Dunn, who called the timeline “overly ambitious, even unrealistic,” even as she praised Cohen for listening to the concerns members of her organization had presented to DHHS.

It’s complicated

Medical and behavioral health providers agree that patients fare better when people caring for a patient’s physical needs are closely coordinating with those attending to the behavioral issues. In some practices, that happens, where a psychologist or social worker operates down the hall from the doctor.

But many people in the behavioral health system have needs that are far more complicated than treating depression alongside diabetes. In North Carolina, LME/MCOs coordinate services for people with severe and persistent mental illnesses, kids with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and people with substance abuse issues. Some of their services are paid for by Medicaid, which means federal-plus-state dollars, and some services are paid for solely by state dollars.

This integration of care was one of Cohen’s top three priorities, she said. There are a lot of moving parts and she said those folks would eventually move into so-called “tailored plans,” which can account for needs such as housing, supported employment or in-home nursing care.

“There’s a lot of agreement about heading toward that integrated whole-person care,” Cohen said. “I think there are a number of ways in which we can get there.”

Getting this part of Medicaid reform correct is important because these are the beneficiaries that can be most expensive to serve.

Dollar agreed that integration is an important goal, but he said, “It really needs to happen at the provider level and that’s where the incentives need to be.”

The other big question mark left by the plan Cohen described is how to account for the services paid for by state dollars only.

According to Julia Adams, who lobbies for organizations that serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, those are services such as supported employment for people with intellectual disabilities.

“When you go to Lowe’s and you have someone with Down Syndrome bagging your groceries, that person may not be disabled enough to get an Innovations waiver slot [enhanced community support services], but they get Medicaid for their health care and they probably get a state dollar service that helps them work in the community,” Adams explained.

“Our question is what happens with the state dollar services, who is going to be running that? Right now, the LME/MCOs run it,” she said. She noted that in other states, when managed care companies were asked to take these types of services on, the services fell apart.

On top of that, North Carolina has continued to cut those state dollars.

“Why would a managed care company want to run something that’s constantly being cut?” Adams asked.

Dunn also expressed concern about what happens to those services.

“We will still need an investment of state dollars to act as the mortar for the bricks of our system,” Dunn said. “State dollars do all of those things that more restrictive federal dollars cannot do. They’re an essential part of the safety net because they provide care for people who are not Medicaid eligible, and for services that cannot be funded through Medicaid.”

Cohen also said her department is looking for feedback from people around the state who would be affected by the changes: patients, providers, advocates and those who run health care businesses.

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Since January, the investigative news team at Carolina Public Press has investigated the quality of care and safety conditions of housing facilities for those with mental illness in North Carolina. Your input is important. You can help us report on these issues by completing the form below or by contacting our news organization.

If you, or a family member, have a mental illness, how have you found housing? What are conditions like in the facilities you or a family member reside, either now or in the past? What is mental health care like in your community? Do you work in an adult care facility? Do you live near an adult care facility? What else should we know? What else should we ask?
EMAIL US care@carolinapublicpress.org
CALL US Our office number is 828-774-5290.

Read the first story | Investigation: NC adult care homes system under fire, with oversight inconsistent, unreliable
Read the second story | Who’s watching: Investigation raises doubts about the NC inspection system for adult care homes
Learn more | Like Carolina Public Press on Facebook to join a live chat about this series on Thursday, Aug. 3
Watch | View the Newsmakers public forum on this topic

By submitting this information, you are agreeing to our terms of service. Please note that we will never share or publish your personal information without your permission.

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Breathing new life into the old Jack Tar Motor Lodge at 202 N. Corcoran St., Unscripted Durham is a mid-century design icon reimagined.

Durham, N.C. — Located in the old Jack Tar Motor Lodge, at 202 N. Corcoran St., Unscripted Durham is the latest boutique hotel to open in the Bull City.

This is the first location for the Unscripted Hotels brand, a new lifestyle brand and hospitality concept from the Dream Hotel Group.

“We are thrilled to debut the Unscripted brand in a city with a culture as rich and diverse as Durham,” Dream Hotel Group Chief Executive Jay Stein said. “Unscripted Durham offers more than a place to stay. It offers a distinct and compelling community experience that celebrates the city’s thriving food scene, creative arts culture and entrepreneurial spirit.”

The property underwent a multimillion-dollar redesign. Doors officially opened at the boutique hotel on Wednesday. There are 74 guest rooms and suites, five food and beverage venues and an expansive rooftop pool deck and lounge.

The Patio, a retro-inspired poolside lounge, offers guests gourmet snacks and craft cocktails. The traditional hotel lobby has been replaced with The Studio, a classic rec room with custom classic cocktails. A mixed-use coffee bar and eatery is available in the hotel’s street level.

Pour Taproom, an onsite pay-by-the-ounce taproom, is also located in the hotel. It offers local, regional and international craft beer. The owners of Pizzeria Toro are bringing the Jack Tar Diner to Unscripted. The restaurant will serve lunch and dinner, in addition to wine and beer. Rounding out the external food options at Unscripted is locally owned Mediterranean restaurant, Neomonde.

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DENVER BUSINESS JOURNAL – Colorado construction-tech manufacturing company Prescient Co. is moving its headquarters from Arvada to Durham, North Carolina.

Satyen Patel, the company’s executive chairman, announced the news today at the grand opening of Prescient’s new manufacturing facility in Mebane, North Carolina, between Greensboro and Raleigh-Durham. He says Durham’s tech-savvy millennial talent pool helped the firm pick it over other sites.

“It’s a vibrant, architectural community,” he says.

Patel previously said that the new $15 million North Carolina plant will help the company generate $300 million in revenue by 2019.

The company uses software to plan and design buildings such as apartments and student housing; then it produces the trusses, panels and other parts that hold the entire building together— and assembles them on site.

Read more at the Denver Business Journal: http://bit.ly/2uiINtm

Copyright 2017 Denver Business Journal

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New NCCU chancellor prioritizes student housing, safety

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Durham, N.C. — North Carolina Central University’s new chancellor, Dr. Johnson Akinleye, said he’s ready for the role and eager to act on his priorities.

Akinleye stepped into the the role as interim chancellor in January after former Chancellor Debra Saunders-White died following a battle with cancer.

On Monday, the University of North Carolina Systems Board of Governors announced he would step into the role permanently.

Akinleye said his first priority is addressing the housing needs of incoming and rising students as enrollment increases.

The university estimates 1 to 3 percent growth over each year of incoming freshman going forward. Right now, the goal is to cap the increase at 1 percent to make sure students have the resources and attention they need.

“I’m happy that we are growing, so one of my first priorities is being able to maintain that growth,” he said.

Akinleye said he knows there is a lot to consider and take on with his new role, but he believes he is up for the challenge. He also has confidence in the UNC Board of Governors to back up the university’s growth.

“The honor of following her legacy of eagle excellence is one that I treasure and cherish,” Akinleye said.

Akinleye previously served as associate vice chancellor for academic programs at UNC-Wilmington and held various leadership positions at Edward Waters College and Bethune-Cookman University in Florida.

“Dr. Akinleye is a strategic thinker and no-nonsense leader,” said UNC President Margret Spellings. “His distinguished career includes extensive experience in senior administrative leadership roles at public, private and church-affiliated institutions. He sees building a relationship with the campus and community leaders as a priority and he understands the need to maximize the full value of being in the Research Triangle.”

The Board of Governors said it received 30 applications for the position and narrowed the search down to three candidates in just six months.

“I accept the awesome responsibility as the twelfth chancellor for North Carolina Central University with humility,” Akinleye said in a statement when he was selected “I look forward to leading NCCU in a manner that honors our mission and to working closely with UNC General Administration to fulfill the university’s system-wide mission and goals that accrue to the benefit of the citizens of the great state of North Carolina.”

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Chapel Hill, NC – Many North Carolina communities are experiencing an affordable housing shortage, which is particularly severe for those who rent, says a new report published by researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS). The report, Extreme Housing Conditions in North Carolina, examines severe housing cost burden, overcrowding and substandard housing conditions among renters in the state. It identifies areas of the state with extreme housing needs, defined as having relatively high levels of at least two of the following three indicators: severe housing cost burden, overcrowding and the lack of complete kitchen and bathroom facilities.

The report, authored by William Rohe, Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor and director of CURS, Todd Owen, CURS associate director and Sarah Kerns, CURS researcher, analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Areas of extreme housing conditions in Chatham County, NC.

Among the report’s findings:

Census tracts with extreme housing conditions were found in 46 of North Carolina’s 100 counties and in all regions of the state. As of 2013, more than 377,000, or 28.2 percent, of the State’s rental households experienced severe cost burdens, were overcrowded or lacked critical facilities. The number of severely cost-burdened households increased by 53,737 (or 22.5 percent) between 2008 and 2013. In eight census tracts, over 60 percent of renter households were severely cost burdened, with the highest percentage being 77.4 percent in a Wake County tract. The number of overcrowded households increased by 20,437, or 45.4 percent, between 2008 and 2013. In six census tracts, over 30 percent of renter households were overcrowded, with the highest rate being 53 percent in a Wake County tract.

“The report’s findings indicate that additional efforts are needed to improve housing conditions, reduce overcrowding, and lessen the housing cost burdens of renters in North Carolina,” said Rohe. “Without decent and affordable housing, it is difficult for many families in the state to lead happy and productive lives.”

The housing problems described by the report also increase public health care costs and reliance on social support programs and lower productivity. The authors suggest that combined efforts of state and local governments are needed to reverse the negative trends in housing affordability and overcrowding and improve the quality of life and economic productivity of North Carolinians.

The full report can be read here.

In addition to the report, an interactive map of Extreme Housing Conditions in North Carolina can be found at bit.do/CURS_Housing.


About the Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS)

As part of the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CURS is a multi-disciplinary research center focusing on issues and problems faced by our nation’s cities and regions. Created in 1957, the Center supports research activity and collaboration across campus through its Faculty Fellows program that draws on the expertise of over 90 faculty members from over 20 schools, departments, curricula, and research centers across the campus. The Center’s mission is to promote and support high-quality basic and applied research on planning, policy, and interdisciplinary social issues and challenges we face in urban, regional, and rural settings in North Carolina and around the world.

Pittsboro, NC – A water leak caused a drop in water system pressure earlier today, which has led Chatham County Water Utilities to issue a boil water notice for specific areas in northeast Chatham. The leakage has been isolated and…

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[Editor’s note: Capitol Broadcasting Company, the parent company of WRAL.com and 99.9 The Fan, which hosts the 919 Beer Podcast, also owns the Durham Bulls and the Bull Durham Beer Co.]

The beers of summer are now available all year round.

Executive Brewmaster Sebastian Wolfrum and Bull Durham Beer Co. are now canning their beer to distribute around the Triangle. For now, it’s just the flagship Kolsch, but Wolfrum said the rest are coming soon to cans near you.

“The next step out of this initial launch with the can is to add three more (beers). So, we’re going to have the Kolsch, the Wheat Beer—both of those area going to be 16-ounce for sure,” Wolfrum said on the 919 Beer podcast. “Then we’re thinking of our Light Ale … and an IPA.”

Bull Durham Beer Company started in the Durham Bulls Athletic Park in downtown Durham. The beer began as a ballpark-only offering, but Wolfrum said they now can’t brew enough to satisfy demand at the park.

To expand into outside-the-park sales, and to keep up with thirst at the DBAP, the brewery added a second brewing location in Rocky Mount.

“This is sort of our second location really, in that way (it’s) an extension or an expansion in all this,” Wolfrum said.

So, when the lights go out on another season in Durham, know that you don’t have to wait until spring to get your hands on a taste of baseball season.

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A 21-year-old North Carolina man suffered severe burns after falling into a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park.

Park officials say Gervais Dylan Gatete of Raleigh, an employee of park concessionaire Xanterra Parks and Resorts, fell into a hot spring in the Lower Geyser Basin just north of Old Faithful late Tuesday.

Gatete was with seven other people when he fell. The group flagged down a ranger, Gatete was taken by ambulance to the airport in West Yellowstone, Montana, and he was flown a Salt Lake City burn hospital.

Park spokeswoman Morgan Warthin says the incident is still under investigation. She did not know Gatete’s medical condition.

This is the first serious injury in a thermal area in Yellowstone this year. Last June, a man left the boardwalk and died after falling into a hot spring in the Norris Geyser Basin.

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Do you want to find a home in North Carolina? There are a lot of cities in this state that have nice places to stay in them. If you want to buy or rent a place, then now is the time to go through these tips.

First, you have to think about what you can afford. If you’re going to rent a place, for instance, then you need to think about what it’s going to cost you to live there with utilities included. A lot of people forget that you don’t just have to pay the rent. If you plan to have the internet, then you need to pay for that each month along with other things like cable TV. So, list out all of what you’re going to have to pay and what the rent is to see if this is something you can afford.

Do you have work near where you are wanting to live? One bill a lot of people don’t think about is the traveling costs they have to pay to get to and from places. For instance, if you are living a ways away from where your kids go to school then you may have to drive them each day. Traveling costs money because you have to pay for gas and for maintenance from time to time. If you have to spend money on a cab or anything like that, then that can be expensive too and may make some areas out of the question to live in.

You can find a nice home in North Carolina if you know what you’re doing. Make sure you are careful about who you trust and that you do all the research possible on this. Eventually, you’ll get what you need and will love the place you pick out.

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