NM’s federal delegation to seek review of mental health shake-up
By Diana Alba Soular, Las Cruces Sun-News
LAS CRUCES – Members of New Mexico’s federal congressional delegation said late last week they plan to seek refer allegations stemming from New Mexico’s mid-2013 behavioral health shake-up to the U.S. Department of Justice.
That’s in response to a request earlier in the week from three state lawmakers — including state Sen. Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces — to do so.
Four of five members of the New Mexico federal delegation issued a coordinated statement in response to the request from Papen and two other state lawmakers.
U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall and U.S. Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Ben Ray Luján, all D-N.M., wrote the following: “We are making the U.S. Department of Justice aware of these very troubling allegations from New Mexico providers who were impacted when the State upended our behavioral health system.”
The statement noted that Attorney General Hector Balderas cleared the 15 Medicaid-funded behavioral health providers earlier this year of criminal wrongdoing. Balderas did note there were regulatory violations by the providers, but nothing that indicated a pattern of fraud.
“Sadly, that cannot change the fact that damage has been done to New Mexico’s behavioral health system,” the senators’ and representatives’ statement said. “The State’s actions prevented thousands of New Mexicans from getting the care they needed, wasted millions of taxpayer dollars, and cost hundreds of New Mexicans their jobs. It’s understandable that New Mexicans want a thorough review of what happened, and for someone to be held accountable for this severe disruption of services and to provide a resolution.”
Continued the statement: “This is why we are calling this issue to the attention of DOJ, and why we are also building support for our legislation to do everything in our power to ensure this kind of manufactured crisis never happens again.”
The same group of federal lawmakers in March introduced a bill — the Medicaid Due Process Integrity Act — that aims to boost due process rights of providers and minimize disruptions to clients if an entity is accused of possible fraud.