Poverty and Public Health
5:16 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Twitter Town Hall Abuzz About Behavioral Health, Medicaid

(L-R) US Rep. Ben Lujan, NM AG Gary King, HSD's Julie Weinberg, St. Sen. Linda Lopez, Health Exchange IT Bob Meyer, HSD's Diana McWilliams, Primary Care Assoc.'s David Roddy
(L-R) US Rep. Ben Lujan, NM AG Gary King, HSD's Julie Weinberg, St. Sen. Linda Lopez, Health Exchange IT Bob Meyer, HSD's Diana McWilliams, Primary Care Assoc.'s David Roddy
Credit Deborah Martinez

Rio Arriba County health officials hosted their first-ever Twitter Town Hall today - A panel of experts answered tweeted questions about Medicaid.   The twittersphere was abuzz with questions about the state's recent audit of behavioral health providers.

Diana McWilliams of the State Human Services Department told the crowd gathered under a tent at Espanola’s Health Commons, that patient care is HSD’s number one priority.

“I personally am very committed to working with our existing agencies in New Mexico," McWilliams said, "and bottom line is, we want to make sure you have quality services.”

At least five local providers are having their management taken over by Arizona behavioral health service providers who have contracted with the state.

For some long-time patients of Casa de Corazon, the replacement of management staff in the wake of the allegations of fraud, has them paralyzed.

Joe Lopez, who didn’t want to give his real name, isn’t just scared, he’s upset and refusing to return for his routine counseling sessions under management by Arizona firm Valle Del Sol.

“With Arizonans taking our jobs, I really don’t like that because it feels like they’re just replacing New Mexicans with out-of-state in my opinion,” the teenager said.

The state attorney general is reviewing the allegations of fraud and mismanagement HSD has brought against 15 New Mexico behavioral health firms.  Those firms have served about 30-thousand patients in New Mexico for decades. Attorney General Gary King says the process that could take months.