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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina's health agency has given Mecklenburg County another chance to prove it can operate its own managed-care organization to treat the mentally ill, instead of being assumed by a regional entity.

The Department of Health and Human Services says Secretary Dr. Aldona Wos (vosh) told Mecklenburg County officials Wednesday they're getting another month to show it's prepared to run its Medicaid mental health services program.

Wos' predecessor ruled last month Mecklenburg couldn't meet a Feb. 1 deadline and that Cardinal Innovations -- which oversees mental health services in more than a dozen counties -- would supervise Mecklenburg. County officials balked at the ruling.

HHS spokeswoman Julie Henry says an outside consultant will evaluate MeckLINK Behavioral Healthcare this week and determine whether it can be ready to start March 1.

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