Lawmakers restless on pay, severance at mental health agency

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina legislators are getting restless waiting for state regulators to act against a regional managed-care mental health agency that’s the subject of a second critical report this year on leadership pay and benefits.

The Department of Health and Human Services presented to a General Assembly committee on Tuesday its own interim report examining practices of Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions following a scathing state auditor’s review in May. The state audit found Cardinal spent excessively on salaries for top executives, conferences and Christmas parties.

Now the department’s review found CEO Richard Topping, other executives and employees have severance packages that cover up to three years and kick in for a number of unusual reasons.

Top committee members suggested Cardinal’s massive state contract should be canceled if changes aren’t made quickly.