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NC agency examining mental health privatization

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RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina's top health official is considering whether to outsource care of dozens of institutionalized mental patients to a private contractor.

Health and Human Services Secretary Lanier Cansler says he's looking at privatizing oversight of about 80 mental patients at Dorothea Dix Hospital. The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Thursday the patients are accused of crimes and are either awaiting trial or have been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Cansler says he doesn't favor privatizing all mental health care but says the agency must keep looking for ways to save money during tight budget times. A spokeswoman for Gov. Beverly Perdue says the governor is open to the idea.

Legislators who oversee mental health services say they are suspicious about privatization efforts.

Information from: The News & Observer

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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