Human Services Department

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A Las Cruces behavioral health provider will take over clients of La Frontera, an Arizona firm that is shutting down its New Mexico offices.

Matt Kennicott from the state Human Services Department says many staff members from La Frontera are applying to work at La Clinica de Familia and that that will make the transition go smoothly.

"People who are seeing their current providers will continue seeing their providers even after the switching of companies is made," Kennicott said.

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.

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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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.

Human Services Secretary Sidonie Squier is stepping down from her cabinet-level job in Gov. Susana Martinez's administration running one of the state's largest agencies.

Squier's resignation is effective Dec. 1.

The governor said in a statement Thursday that Squier's "leadership has been valuable and important" during a time when New Mexico expanded and overhauled its Medicaid program, which provides health care to lower income New Mexicans.

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The Human Services Department announced it would not begin demanding more New Mexicans on food stamps meet work requirements. The rule change was slated to go into effect at the beginning of this month, but a lawsuit filed by two nonprofits threw a wrench in the works. 

The lawsuit charged HSD with not following proper procedure in alerting people to the rule change—or posting the full and correct version of the work requirement—before it was adopted.

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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Two New Mexico nonprofits filed a lawsuit this week against the state that could halt changes to the state’s food assistance program.

The Center on Law and Poverty and the Southwest Organizing Project, along with three people who rely on food stamps, are asking for a temporary restraining order that would stop a work requirement for certain SNAP recipients that’s slated to go into effect on November 1.

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. 

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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The state’s Human Services Department held a hearing in Santa Fe this morning about changes that would add work requirements to the food stamps program. 

Faith leaders from around the state—along with AARP, family advocates and representatives from food banks—spoke against new requirements for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. They emphasized that hungry people in New Mexico are already looking for work: There just aren’t jobs to be had.

Caden Crawford via Flickr / Creative Commons License

The state Human Services Department will hear public testimony Friday on proposed changes to SNAP, the state’s food assistance program.  

Lawsuit Argues Medicaid Evaluations Hurt Disabled

Aug 25, 2014
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Family members of developmentally disabled New Mexicans suing the state say a Medicaid assessment system puts recipients of services at risk.

The Albuquerque Journal reports attorneys for eight families asked a judge Wednesday to halt a new method for evaluating recipients to determine their level of services, which can include 24-hour residential care as well as occupational and speech therapy.

Judge Rules Health Audit Can Remain Secret

Aug 14, 2014
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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.

Deborah Martinez

Midnight Monday is the deadline to sign up for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act.  Over the weekend in New Mexico people lined up to get covered, either through the insurance marketplace or Medicaid.  

From those in their 60s to young people under 26 covered under their parents’ plan, hundreds stood in the bright spring sunshine sign up under Medicaid, or with one of four insurance plans.

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. 

The Case Of New Mexico's Altered Audit

Dec 2, 2013

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."

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

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

Bryant Furlow

When the New Mexico Human Services Department (NMHSD) announced last month it would suspend Medicaid payments to 15 behavioral health providers, Joe Frechen was worried.

For nearly 20 years, Frechen has worked as psychiatrist in Southern New Mexico with some of the most vulnerable patients in the region.