The state Human Services Department has run into a roadblock with the contracts it signed with five Arizona providers who are taking over management of behavioral health services in New Mexico. The Legislative Finance Committee has delayed transfer of funds to pay for the out-of-state firms’ contracts, but the Arizona contractors still have an obligation to provide services to behavioral health clients.
Legislative Finance Committee Director David Abbey said lawmakers have been receiving complaints from residents about how the decision was made to freeze funding to 15 behavioral health providers, as well as how the new firms were chosen, and the resulting interruption of services.
“The committee recognized that there were legitimate concerns and mis-billings that need to be addressed," Abbey said. "My concern was the number of firms that were affected by this, the disruption and whether there were alternatives. Maybe some of the firms could’ve been reinstated, perhaps with greater supervision."
Abbey's letter to the state delays transfer of more than $10 million dollars to fund contracts with the Arizona firms. Those companies were selected by Governor Susana Martinez's administration to take over nonprofits under investigation for Medicaid fraud. Senator John Arthur Smith, who chairs the finance committee, said while the LFC can delay the administration's (Martinez's) partnership with the Arizona companies, it cannot stop the line item transfer to pay for the contracts. Had Abbey not intervened, the money transfer would have been final on August 12 (Monday).
The LFC will take up the issue at its next public hearing scheduled for August 21st in Chama.
The Martinez administration did not respond to requests for comment on this story.