Eastpointe files lawsuit against state DHHS

RALEIGH — Eastpointe Human Services has filed a legal action against the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and others in U.S. District Court in Raleigh in an effort to compel DHHS to comply with North Carolina law and to ensure patients and families continue to receive behavioral health services without delay or interruption.

In December, former DHHS Secretary Rick Brajer unlawfully approved Nash County’s request to disengage from Eastpointe and realign with Trillium Health Services. By approving this request, Brajer intentionally ignored clear directives from the North Carolina General Assembly.

These directives required him to establish a process that, at a minimum, provides adequate notice to the public and service recipients to offer feedback. Prior to her confirmation as DHHS secretary, Mandy Cohen upheld Brajer’s decision, despite Eastpointe’s call for more public input.

This action also seeks to enforce the requirement that DHHS and Nash County abide by their valid and binding contracts with Eastpointe.

“Former Secretary Brajer’s hasty decision to approve Nash County’s request without establishing a process for public input in the final days of the McCrory Administration clearly violated the law,” said Sarah Stroud, CEO of Eastpointe. “Brajer took away the voice given to members, families, providers and the general public.

“When DHHS ignores the General Assembly’s reasonable requirements, it sets a bad precedent,” Stroud added. “It is in our members’ best interests to ensure that DHHS, Nash County and others follow the rules.”

Stroud said that, by handling this matter the way he did, former Secretary Brajer denied the public the opportunity to engage in a thoughtful and transparent discussion about the most effective way to provide critical behavioral health services in eastern North Carolina.