NDAs, PBH, and Blossom Rot

In June, the General Assembly officially made the PBH Local Management Entity model the only game in town for delivering public mental health services, with passage of House Bill 916, which mandates all Local Management Entities will maintain fidelity to the PBH model for all public resources related to delivering mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse services.

And it hasn’t taken long for PBH to show it deserves the GOP dominated General Assembly’s trust, the LME showing its business acumen by requiring non-disclosure agreements from other LMEs that prohibits sharing all the “know-how, techniques, processes, plans, ideas, documents and all other information” it will provide.

Now, short-sighted individuals might argue that since this know-howand these techniques, processes, plans, ideas, documents and all other information was developed by a public agency using public funds, it should be public record. But just think of the ramifications if some of this proprietary information was leaked to for-profit companies. What if it helped increase the quality of services and efficiency with which the private sector delivered them? Too many leaks and PBH might find itself out of business.

And what if other states got their hands on this information? It’s scary to think that our tax dollars might help individuals outside our borders. That’s nothing but liberal socialism.

No matter what the North Carolina Public Records law might have to say, I myself these NDAs are good and should be expanded throughout government. Want to learn how to control aphids on your squash from the state’s Cooperative Extension Service? Then sign an NDA. After all, are you your neighbor’s squash’s keeper? Want to read the “Pickle and Pickle Product Problems” brochure from the Extension Services’ “For Safety’s Sake series?” Sign the NDA.

“I’d love to show you my report card, Grandma, but I signed an NDA.”

Now you’re just being silly, you say. Which is exactly my point.

If specific issues of client privacy and confidentiality were involved rather than a blanket ban on sharing any information, it might be more understandable. But state and federal statutes already address such issues. Indeed, if anything, a concern is these non-disclosure agreements might unnecessarily impede agencies and individuals who have a right and need to know information from obtaining it. And even if there is a legitimate reason for not sharing some information, has PBH usurped the Department of Health and Human Services authority in making that call?

For now I must leave the need for such an NDA a mystery and send along an open invitation to the PBH administration to explain why it is needed. And for any gardeners out their having trouble with blossom rot in your tomatoes, pepopers or watermelons, the Extension Service says you might want to add a little lime to the soil. Just don’t tell anyone where you heard it.

David Cornwell
Executive Director
North Carolina Mental Hope

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