Public Health New Mexico

Public Health New Mexico
6:24 am
Wed September 11, 2013

Lawmaker's Bill Targets Emergency Status Used In Behavioral Health Crisis

2013 Session of the New Mexico State Legislature, Santa Fe
Credit Deborah Martinez

When Medicaid funding for 15 of New Mexico’s behavioral health providers was frozen earlier this summer, lawmakers began hearing from their constituents.

Senator Tim Keller says people in his district in southeast Albuquerque are extremely upset. Now Keller has drafted a piece of legislation he hopes will prevent this kind of situation from happening again. 

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Public Health New Mexico
4:35 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Uninsured To Get Lower Premiums Under Obamacare

Credit Thinkprogress.org

The state expects about half of the 400,000 uninsured New Mexicans to purchase insurance through the state health insurance exchange when it’s fully implemented in 2014.  A new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds New Mexicans will pay some of the lowest rates in the nation.  

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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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Public Health New Mexico
9:14 am
Sat September 7, 2013

5 Insurers Offer Health Plans Through NM Exchange

Credit Kaiser Family Health Foundation

A new national study says the cost of medical plans available through New Mexico's health insurance exchange likely will be lower than in many other states.

New Mexico's top insurance regulator said uninsured individuals also will find more insurance options through the exchange than currently are available in the private market.

Insurance Superintendent John Franchini said people who qualify for federal subsidies can expect to buy their insurance through the exchange at costs lower than current market rates.

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Public Health New Mexico
3:35 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Elderly Health Care Costs Could Spike Under Federal Health Law

"The age group that will face the highest increases is actually older individuals, 64 year olds in New Mexico will see a 159% increase in their rates to $494 a month and similarly women will see a 160% increase in their rates," says Avik Roy with the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.
Credit Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

When the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, many consumers buying health insurance could take a big hit to their checkbooks, and New Mexico may take the biggest hit of all.

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Public Health New Mexico
5:22 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

New Mexico Behavioral Health Auditor Helped Vet Arizona Firms Before Finishing Work

In June the state of New Mexico froze Medicaid payments to 15 behavioral health providers due to "credible allegations of fraud." The agencies were then taken over by

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Public Health New Mexico
5:54 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

State Scouted Early For Arizona Behavioral Health Providers

Credit A Health Blog via Flickr

Members of New Mexico's Behavioral Health legislative subcommittee discovered this week that state officials were considering contracts with Arizona providers before local firms had been notified of fraud allegations.

Some lawmakers are now looking at potential lawsuits because of an audit performed by the firm Public Consulting Group, or PCG. The audit resulted in a freeze of Medicaid funding to 15 local behavioral health providers.

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Public Health New Mexico
2:35 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Service Disruptions Mark Transition Of New Mexico Behavioral Health To Arizona Hands

On June 24, New Mexico's Human Services Department announced that an audit found "credible allegations of fraud" for

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Local News
6:06 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Protestors Plead With Governor To Stop Behavioral Health Takeover

Behavioral health advocates rally outside the state capitol on Friday, August 30
Credit Deborah Martinez

Protestors gathered at the state capital in Santa Fe today,  pleading with Governor Susana Martinez to change course and end the chaos now hampering New Mexico’s behavioral health system.   Front-line workers who treat extreme cases of the mentally ill reported losing touch with their clients after five Arizona firms took over operations at 12 local providers.

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Public Health New Mexico
5:13 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Federal Officials Take Comments From Clients On Behavioral Health Service Disruptions

Credit jetheriot via Flickr

Federal authorities heard directly Wednesday from more than two dozen behavioral health clients concerned about the continuing disruptions of services in New Mexico. Callers were highly critical of the state's move to freeze Medicaid funding for providers suspected of fraud. One after another, men and women, adult patients and parents of children recounted problems getting services.  

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Local News
3:15 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

Hurdles For New Behavioral Health Managers Get Higher

Credit Deborah Martinez

This week marks the beginning of new management  for another one of the New Mexico's nonprofits under investigation for alleged Medicaid fraud.  Three out of four of the counselors who treated patients at Valencia Counseling Services in Los Lunas are no longer working there, and that has the new management team on edge. 

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Poverty and Public Health
6:53 am
Fri August 23, 2013

AG Releases Heavily Redacted Audit Protocol Document

Often, redacted documents might look like this, with blurred or darkly marked segments. But according to The Albuquerque Journal, the redacted Audit Protocol documents they received were so heavily redacted that 8 of 13 pages were entirely blank.
Credit opensourceway via Flickr

The State Attorney General's Office released parts of  an audit Thursday of 15 behavioral health providers who have been accused of over-billing and Medicaid fraud by the Human Services Department.

The Albuquerque Journal reports 8 of 13 pages of the "Audit Protocols" document were completely redacted while 4 other pages were almost completely redacted.

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Poverty and Public Health
4:51 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Report: Wage Theft Common Among Mexican Immigrants

Report Says Wage Theft Common Among Immigrants
Credit Andrew Shank, Jessica Garrick, Somos Un Pueblo Unido

Employers in New Mexico steal wages from one in four Mexican immigrant workers. That’s according to a new study from researchers at the University of New Mexico.

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Poverty and Public Health
3:21 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Lawmakers Powerless To Stop Behavioral Health Funding Transfer

Brent Ernest, deputy secretary of the NM Human Services Department, speaks to state legislators about the takeover of NM Medicaid-funded behavioral health facilities.
Credit Deborah Martinez

Governor Susana Martinez’s administration is moving ahead - despite objections from state legislators - with plans to use more than 10-million dollars from the Human Services Department to pay Arizona contractors that are taking over New Mexico’s Medicaid-funded behavioral health operations.   The Legislative Finance Committee voted 15 to 1 on Wednesday to reject the budget transfer.

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Poverty and Public Health
2:54 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

National Salmonella Outbreak Linked To New Mexico

Multistate Outbreak of Human Salmonella Typhimurium Infections Linked to Live Poultry in Backyard Flocks.
Credit Centers for Disease Control

More than 300 people in 37 states have been infected by salmonella, many of which were children. Investigators have linked the source of the outbreak to a chicken, duck and turkey hatchery in Eastern New Mexico.


In the Southwest, nine people have been infected in California, eight in Arizona, 19 in New Mexico, and 32 in Texas.

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KUNM On NPR
3:13 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Researchers Use Genetic History To Answer Mutation Questions

Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 4:58 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In the American Southwest, a rare genetic disorder known as the Common Hispanic Mutation has haunted those of Spanish descent for nearly 400 years. It's been called "El Frio," or the cold. Now, to understand the disease, researchers in New Mexico are digging into the genetic history of residents. From member station KUNM in Albuquerque, Tristan Ahtone reports.

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Poverty and Public Health
12:10 pm
Sat August 17, 2013

12 Things You Should Know About The Behavioral Health Audit And Funding Freeze

Credit A Health Blog via Flickr

There are still a lot of questions about the New Mexico Human Services Department's abrupt halt of Medicaid funding to 15 behavioral health providers and the state's contracts with Arizona firms to take over provider management.

Here's some of what we do know.

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Poverty and Public Health
3:08 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Veteran Journalist Calls Out Governor On Transparency In Behavioral Health Audit

There are still many unanswered questions about the state Human Services Department's decision to freeze funding for 15 behavioral health service providers after an audit found evidence of alleged Medicaid fraud. 

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Poverty and Public Health
5:33 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

CDC Says Excessive Drinking Costs Taxpayers Billions

The cost of excessive alcohol consumption in the United States reached $223.5 billion in 2006 or about $1.90 per drink.
Credit Centers for Disease Control

Excessive alcohol consumption cost United States taxpayers more than $220 billion in 2006. That's according to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control.

According to the CDC, excessive alcohol consumption, primarily binge drinking, poses a huge public health problem across the country. Major economic impacts include police responses to violence and treatment of health problems related to alcohol.

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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
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.

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Poverty and Public Health
6:18 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Rio Arriba County To Hold Twitter Town Hall On Medicaid

Credit publik15 via Flickr

Health officials in Northern New Mexico are turning to social media to get residents involved in a discussion about the state's Medicaid program.

Rio Arriba County Officials are hosting their second annual health fair in Española tomorrow.  In addition to dental screenings and immunizations, the event features – a Twitter Town Hall. 

In rural areas  social media  can be an important tool for communications.  US Representative Ben Ray Lujan will moderate a panel of experts who will answer tweeted questions about Medicaid services. 

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Poverty and Public Health
2:33 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Legislature Delays Funding Of New Behavioral Health Contractors

NM State Capitol
Credit Legislative Finance Committee

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.

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KUNM On NPR
3:13 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Laid To Rest: A Proper Burial For The Poor

In lieu of names, this headstone was engraved with a quote: "We grow afraid of what we might forget. We will find peace and value through community in knowing that we belong to each other. Dedicated to the Citizens of Bernalillo County."
Carrie Jung KUNM

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 4:56 pm

On a blisteringly hot summer afternoon, about 40 people gather at the Evangelico Cemetery in southwestern Albuquerque. Deacon Pablo Lefebre leads the service and begins with a prayer

"Because God has chosen to call our brothers and our sisters from this life to himself," he says, "we commit their bodies to the earth, its resting place. For we are dust, and to dust we shall return."

This isn't your average funeral. The light gray casket about to be lowered into the ground is filled with the cremated remains of 87 county residents.

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Poverty and Public Health
6:04 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Los Lunas Behavioral Health Provider Braces For Shift In Management

The courtyard of Valencia Counseling Service in Los Lunas
Deborah Martinez

New Mexico behavioral health providers who had their Medicaid funding frozen after allegations of fraud and mismanagement are in the process of transitioning to management from several Arizona contractors.

Meanwhile, Valencia Counseling Service, a facility south of Albuquerque, is holding out for a last minute reprieve from an Albuquerque District Court.

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KUNM Call In Show
9:56 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Gov. Martinez's Administration: Arizona Behavioral Health Providers Are Here To Stay

Credit unsure shot via Flickr

There’s been a lot of uncertainty about what new management by out-of-state firms will mean for behavioral health providers in New Mexico. Thursday morning on the KUNM Call In Show some of that uncertainty was dispelled by Diana McWilliams of the state Human Services Department .

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Local News
6:28 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Interview: Attorney General Gary King On Behavioral Health Fraud Investigation

Attorney General Gary King, left, and HSD Secretary Sidonie Squier review behavioral health audit findings before Squier’s testimony to the Legislative Finance Committee earlier this month.
Credit Bryant Furlow

 

New Mexico's Human Services Department recently accused 15 of New Mexico's largest Behavioral Health Care providers of Medicaid fraud, after results from an audit aroused suspicion. Providers have had their Medicaid funding frozen, and many have been forced to turn over their case loads to Arizona companies.  The audit has been released to the Attorney Generals office for a full investigation. Recently AG Gary King  announced that his office was fast tracking the investigation. He spoke with KUNM's Rita Daniels to explain just what exactly that means.

 

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Poverty and Public Health
3:13 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Mom Worries About Behavioral Health Services For Her Son With Schizophrenia

Many clients of the providers who've had their funding frozen are considered some of the most fragile residents of the state. Gay Finlayson's son Neil was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 20. Doctors told the family it was one of the most difficult mental health conditions to treat.

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Poverty and Public Health
3:00 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Psychiatrist Concerned About AZ Providers

Behavioral health clinicians have direct contact with their clients in a trusted relationship.   Joe Frechen  is a psychiatrist who's been treating people for drug addiction and suicide prevention for 20 years in southern New Mexico.  He works on contract with many current providers and wants to continue that arrangement.

Frechen says he’s concerned that the patients he sees at clinics that have had their funding frozen won’t get what they need from out-of-state contractors hired by the Human Services Department.

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Local News
1:53 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

How About That Storm Thursday Night?

Lightning strikes in Albuquerque.
Credit Nathan Orona

I have always associated the word "monsoon" with India. Conversely, words like "arid" and "parched" I associate with the Southwestern United States, not just as descriptions, but as central facts about the regions.

These associations are incorrect.

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Local News
1:38 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Arizona Companies Prepare To Manage New Mexico Behavioral Health Providers

N.M. Legislative Finance Committee members listen as NMHSD Secretary Squier defended her suspension of Medicaid payments to 15 behavioral health providers.
Credit 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.

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