News Roundup: State Finds No Fraud By Mental Health Provider

Jan 16, 2014

State Finds No Fraud By Mental Health Provider - The Associated Press

Attorney General Gary King says investigators found no fraud by a behavioral health provider in Alamogordo although Medicaid was improperly billed for $19,000 in services.

King's office announced Thursday it had finished an investigation of the first of more than a dozen nonprofit mental health providers that had their Medicaid payments suspended last year by the Human Services Department because of allegations of fraud, mismanagement and billing problems.

A department spokesman says the agency will investigate the overbillings by The Counseling Center in Alamogordo and suspects the amount is much higher.

The state contracted with an Arizona company to take over providing services that had been handled by the nonprofit group.

Counseling Center CEO Jim Kerlin said the group is out of business and he disputed there were overbillings.

Congress Cuts Funding For Horse Slaughter The Associated Press Congress has again cut funding for inspections at horse slaughterhouses, the latest blow to efforts to resume horse slaughter in the U.S.

Congress on Thursday passed a $1.1 trillion budget bill that prohibits the Department of Agriculture from spending money for inspectors at equine facilities.

The last domestic horse slaughterhouses closed in 2007, a year after Congress first cut funding for the inspections in an attempt to shutter the industry.

Funding was restored in 2011, and Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, New Mexico, has been fighting ever since to convert its small cattle operation to horse slaughter.

Companies in Iowa and Missouri had also received permits to open last year, but the efforts have been blocked by lawsuits.

Animal protection groups are applauding the vote.


NM School Shooting Victim ImprovingThe Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez says the boy who was shot in the face and neck at a New Mexico middle school is on a breathing machine and is heavily sedated, but his doctors are optimistic.

Martinez says the 12-year-old remains in critical condition at a Texas hospital and that doctors have repaired slight damage to his heart. She also says his face has pockmarks from the shotgun pellets, and both of his eyes are injured.

But Martinez says the boy has improved, and his doctors "feel good about him."

The news came as students returned to Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, two days after a seventh-grader opened fire at a gym there. The 12-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl were wounded, and a school staffer suffered minor injuries.

The suspect has been charged as a juvenile with three counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.


Drought Prompts Disaster Declarations In 11 States - The Associated Press

Federal officials have designated portions of 11 western and central states as primary natural disaster areas because of a drought.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's announcement Wednesday includes counties in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Kansas, Texas, Utah, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Oklahoma and California.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement that he sympathizes with farmers and ranchers who are dealing with the lack of rain and snow, and assured them that the USDA will stand by them.

The designation means eligible farmers can qualify for low-interest emergency loans from the Agriculture Department.

Counties adjacent to those that are affected also are eligible for assistance.

The United States Drought Monitor reports that while storms have dumped rain and snow in the East, droughts are persisting or intensifying in the West.