Behavioral Health

Public Health New Mexico
1:15 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

Another Arizona Mental Health Provider To Leave N.M.

Credit Jean-Rémy Duboc via CC

  LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Another Arizona-based nonprofit has confirmed it plans to cease providing Medicaid-funded mental health services in southern New Mexico.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that Tucson-based La Frontera plans a staggered transition to phase out its operations in Doña Ana County and several counties in southwestern New Mexico.

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Public Health New Mexico
5:17 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

State Works To Fill The Void Left By Turquoise

District Court judges in Chaves County have expressed concern that they won't be able to order people into treatment if behavioral health capacity in the area is diminished.
Credit Marisa Demarco / KUNM

An Arizona nonprofit that came to New Mexico after the 2013 behavioral health shakeup called it quits on March 31 after less than two years. 

Turquoise Health and Wellness was the main provider of mental health and substance abuse treatment to several cities in Southeast New Mexico. Not anymore. Human Services Department spokesperson Matt Kennicott said since the company gave its 90-day closure notice, the state has been working with communities to find replacements.

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Public Health New Mexico
5:48 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Turquoise Closure Leaves Roswell Courts Scrambling

Judge Freddie Romero gives candy bars to the kids who have a good day in Drug Court.
Credit Marisa Demarco / KUNM

After less than two years serving southeastern New Mexico, a behavioral health provider will shutter its programs on March 31, leaving hundreds without services.

What does this mean for Roswell and its courts, which were ordering offenders into treatment there?

Judge Freddie Romero presides over the drug court for juveniles in Chaves County. It’s not what you might imagine. The judge is warm and friendly. The kids who approach the podium with their parents in tow are everyday teenagers—jeans, T shirts, the occasional piercing.

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Public Health New Mexico
7:40 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Public Health In The 2015 Session

Credit Arianna Sena

Psychiatric Meds In School—PASSED

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Public Health New Mexico
4:58 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Ex-APD Officer On How Police Cope

Paul Ielacqua skips stones in 2014 at Conchas Lake. He was a park ranger there from 1998 to 2001.
Credit Courtesy of Paul Ielacqua

KUNM's Public Health New Mexico reporting project has been investigating Albuquerque Police Department shooting deaths with an eye on behavioral health issues. This week, we’re looking at officer mental health.

Paul Ielacqua was an APD Aviation officer from 2001 to 2008 but has worked in law enforcement—at the Bernalillo County jail and Conchas Lake—since 1996. He talked to KUNM about how police handle their own mental wellness in high-stress situations.

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Local News
7:59 am
Sat February 28, 2015

Nonprofits Cut Services In Arizona While Expanding Into New Mexico

Credit AHealthBlog via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Another Arizona-based behavioral health provider is planning to shut down operations in New Mexico. La Frontera is one of five nonprofits that took over for local providers accused of fraud. Turquoise Health and Wellness announced earlier this year they would close their New Mexico offices on April 1st.

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Public Health New Mexico
5:11 pm
Thu February 26, 2015

The APD Files: Alan Gomez And Substance Abuse

Substance abuse treatment is not available for everyone who needs it in New Mexico, and this shortage is at the root of some tragic altercations with police.

Mike Gomez met me in a park in Albuquerque, holding a framed photo of his son Alan. “He was a good kid, a normal kid,” he said. “He graduated high school on time. He was a Little League All-Star.”

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Public Health New Mexico
6:41 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Balderas Releases Audit, Says Attack Fraud Without Harming Citizens

Attorney General Hector Balderas announces the release of the PCG audit
Credit Marisa Demarco / KUNM

It’s his first month as attorney general and on Thursday, Jan. 29, Hector Balderas released the more than 300-page PCG audit that caused 15 behavioral health service providers to have their funding suspended. 

Since 2013, behavioral health providers in New Mexico have waited to see the details of accusations of Medicaid fraud leveled against them. 

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Public Health New Mexico
2:06 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

AG Releases Behavioral Health Audit

  Attorney General Hector Balderas released a 339-page audit by Public Consulting Group that caused the suspension of funding for 15 behavioral health providers in New Mexico.

Read the released audit here.

Arizona firms were hired to provide behavioral health services, and local providers have said they were unable to see or refute the specific fraud allegations against them. 

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Local News
10:23 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Roswell Braces For Departure Of Health Services Provider

Credit Chris Blakeley via Flickr / Creative Commons license

Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh reached into his shoulder bag and pulled out a four-page brochure Monday at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe.

The pamphlet the former Republican state lawmaker held begins with this statement in bold lettering: “The behavioral health system in Chaves County is in crisis.”

The brochure is the product of an ad hoc committee formed by a state court district judge in Roswell, Kintigh says. The pamphlet goes on to warn of the consequences when a community has too few services for the mentally ill and other vulnerable populations.

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Local News
4:26 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Gov. Martinez Highlights Bipartisanship

Gov. Susana Martinez' campaign staff awaits her arrival on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.
Credit Marisa Demarco

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez secured a second term last night, beating her Democratic challenger Gary King handily. Martinez emphasized bipartisanship during her acceptance speech at the Marriott in Albuquerque, which was packed with Republicans from around the state.

As Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela introduced Gov. Martinez late Tuesday night, he focused on her heart—perhaps a nod to opponent Gary King’s maligned comment about the governor’s not being Latino enough. 

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Public Health New Mexico
11:26 am
Thu October 30, 2014

Behavioral Health Audit Firm Didn’t Follow Normal Practice

Credit audit screen shot

A Massachusetts firm that audited 15 health organizations in New Mexico last year normally gives companies it’s scrutinizing a chance to respond before issuing official findings.

It is a common practice for auditors. Running the findings by staff gives organizations the opportunity to refute findings or address misunderstandings. It’s a way of ensuring the accuracy of an audit, among other things.

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Public Health New Mexico
5:38 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Health Provider Says State Refused Evidence Refuting Audit

Credit Rubén Diaz Alonso via Flickr

A state agency citing potential Medicaid fraud refused to consider documents that could have cleared a health care provider of allegations that it had overcharged the government by as much as $4.3 million, the organization’s officials said this week. 

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Public Health New Mexico
10:29 am
Wed September 10, 2014

News Orgs Appeal Ruling That Lets Health Audit Stay Secret

New Mexico In Depth and the Las Cruces Sun-News are appealing District Judge Douglas R. Driggers' August ruling allowing the audit to remain secret.
Credit Robin Zielinski / Las Cruces Sun-News

Two news organizations are asking the N.M. Court of Appeals to overturn a ruling allowing last year’s audit of 15 health organizations to remain secret.

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Public Health New Mexico
5:07 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

Bernalillo County To Add Mental Health, Marijuana Ballot Questions

Credit Capt Piper via Flicker

Bernalillo County Commissioners voted 3-2 today to include two questions on the November ballot. One will ask whether voters support decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. The other will ask whether voters support a tax increase to fund mental health services. The non-binding measures passed on a party line vote.

Commissioners voting in support of including the mental health question on the ballot said a current lack of behavioral health services in New Mexico is a growing problem for the state.

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From New Mexico In Depth
5:48 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Judge Rules Health Audit Can Remain Secret

Credit Yuri Yu. Samoilov via Flickr / Creative Commons License

A state agency can continue to keep secret most of an audit it used last year to suspend funding for 15 health organizations and spark criminal investigations into potential Medicaid fraud, a judge ruled Thursday.

The ruling marks the second time in nine months that Douglas R. Driggers, a district judge in Doña Ana County, has agreed with the state’s Human Services Department (HSD) and Attorney General’s Office (AG) that protecting an ongoing criminal investigation trumps the public’s right to information.

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Public Health New Mexico
2:53 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

NMInDepth: Open Letter To Sens. O'Neill and Ortiz y Pino

Credit publik15 via Flickr

Dear Senators Bill O’Neill and Jerry Ortiz y Pino:

We at New Mexico In Depth were a bit confused - befuddled might be a better word - at your press release yesterday. It bears the title “Media Scrutiny Finally Gives Behavioral Health Debacle the Investigation Warranted” and begins with this line:

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Public Health New Mexico
5:18 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

APD Chief Statement On Crisis Officer Contradicted

APD officers talk with James Boyd before firing on him
Credit Still from APD video footage March 16, 2014

Contrary to initial reports from the Albuquerque Police Department, no Crisis Intervention Team officers trained to de-escalate situations involving people with behavioral health issues were called to the scene of a Sandia foothills standoff that ended in the death of a camper last month at the hands of police.  

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Public Health New Mexico
6:47 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

AZ Firm Cuts Pay For NM Behavioral Health Workers

Credit Agave Health logo

One of the five Arizona companies that took over operations from New Mexico behavioral health providers last year is announcing salary reductions.  The company says it had to cut pay because it was losing money.

Agave is a non-profit corporation formed in New Mexico by Southwest Behavioral Health of Arizona.  Rather than imposing layoffs, CEO and President Jeff Jorde said the firm needs to cut salaries for its 350 employees by five percent, beginning next week. 

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Public Health New Mexico
8:42 am
Sat March 22, 2014

State: Feds Wrong About Decline In Behavioral Health Services

Credit David Niblack, Imagebase.net

New Mexico’s Human Services Department says more consumers, not fewer, are receiving services since the takeover last summer of a dozen behavioral health providers accused of fraud. HSD’s response is contrary to the results of a progress report by a federal oversight agency.

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Public Health New Mexico
1:58 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Breakdown Of 2014 Public Health Legislation

Credit Wiki Creative Commons

UPDATE Feb.

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Public Health New Mexico
11:41 am
Fri January 24, 2014

In New Mexico: Guilt, Fraud, Audits And Behavioral Health

On Jan. 16, the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office announced it had found “insufficient evidence to support allegations of fraud” against The Counseling Center in Alamagordo, N.M.

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Public Health New Mexico
5:05 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

New Mexico's Top 10 Public Health Stories In 2013

Photo Credit: SchuminWeb via Compfight cc

KUNM Public Health New Mexico reporter Marisa Demarco breaks it down with the highlights of public health news for 2013.

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Public Health New Mexico
1:12 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Behavioral Health Chief Steps Down

Diana McWilliams

The director of the state's Behavioral Health Services Division is resigning. Diana McWilliams submitted her resignation letter on Monday, Dec. 16, and her last day is tomorrow. She'll be heading back east to Philadelphia to become the chief operating officer for a nonprofit behavioral health and child welfare organization, she said. 

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Public Health New Mexico
11:24 am
Mon December 2, 2013

The Case Of New Mexico's Altered Audit

A page from the redacted audit documents released earlier this year.

It's been almost six months since the New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) froze Medicaid payments to mental health providers in the state due to a "credible allegation of fraud."

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Public Health New Mexico
2:35 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

New Mexico Leads Nation In Per Capita Mental Illness

A new federal report ranks New Mexico as the state with the highest percentage of citizens with mental illness. But the 416-page survey also reveals states in the Southwest are above average in many areas like access to mental health services.

The purpose of the Behavioral Health 2012 report is to look at where states stand in relation to national averages. The hope is for policy makers to examine areas of the mental health system that need help.

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Public Health New Mexico
5:05 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Secrecy Surrounds Fraud Allegations In New Mexico Mental Health Audit

Many pages of the behavioral health audit were partially or fully redacted.

In June, New Mexico’s Behavioral Health care system was thrown into chaos — the state abruptly froze Medicaid payments to more than a dozen mental health providers in the state after an audit allegedly found widespread

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Public Health New Mexico
5:44 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Partial Release Of New Mexico Mental Health Audit Raises Questions

Many pages of the behavioral health audit were partially or fully redacted.

This summer, the State of New Mexico froze Medicaid payments to mental health providers because of fraud allegations.

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Public Health New Mexico
1:34 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Timeline: New Mexico's Shake Up Of Behavioral Health Providers

N.M. Human Services Department Secretary Sidonie Squier reviews behavioral health audit findings with Attorney General Gary King at the Legislative Finance Committee's July 17 meeting in Albuquerque.
Credit Bryant Furlow / New Mexico In Depth

At the end of June, 15 New Mexico behavioral health agencies had their Medicaid funding frozen by the state's Human Services Department due to “credible allegations of fraud.”

The agencies provide services to approximately 30,000 patients, many who seek help for mental health issues ranging from substance abuse treatment to schizophrenia.

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Public Health New Mexico
4:05 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Company That Conducted NM Behavioral Health Audit Has Questionable Record

Fifteen New Mexico behavioral health providers that were accused of fraud and shut down still haven’t been able to see the audits that lead to their downfall. The audits supposedly showed the companies over-billed the state for Medicaid reimbursements.

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