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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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.
UPDATE 7/25 8p: The attorney general's office says an agreement has been reached for State Auditor Hector Balderas to have access to an audit that identified potential overbillings and fraud by behavioral health providers.
Chief Deputy Attorney General Al Lama said Thursday a state district judge in Santa Fe has been asked to issue an order making clear the audit report will be protected from public disclosure once it's provided to Balderas.
The auditor and Human Services Department support the request.
Farmers marketsare in full swing around New Mexico. That’s good news for families with school-aged children. Childhood obesity rates are declining a bit across the state and around the nation. What might be playing a role in the decrease? We visited a northern New Mexico market to find out.
Business is bustling at the Española Farmers Market.
Children of low-income families who get free early education services in northern New Mexico will have to seek help elsewhere because two Head Start centers are closing as part of the the federal deficit cutting plan known as sequestration. Presbyterian Medical Services, the nonprofit that gives a “head start” to hundreds of children before kindergarten, is feeling the pinch and cutting services.
Fourteen Behavioral health providers in New Mexico hoping to have their Medicaid funding reinstated will have to wait at least another day, as the federal court judge asked to decide the issue has taken it under advisement.
A hearing on the lawsuit brought by eight behavioral health service providers against Governor Susana Martinez's administration is set for 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, July 17 in Federal District Court in Albuquerque. The group is suing to have funding restored by the state and Human Services Cabinet Secretary Sidonie Squier. Squier abruptly halted all funding for the providers several weeks ago in the wake of an audit the department says was necessary after reports of alleged fraud and misuse of Medicaid funding.
It's business as usual as patients come and go at Santa Fe's Christus St. Vincent Hospital, but inside visitors from the New Mexico Department of Health are undertaking a site survey in response to a complaint by the union representing hundreds of hospital nurses.
In New Mexico, thousands of veterans are living with post traumatic stress disorder. Some of them are joining forces with elected officials to push for increased access to medical marijuana as a treatment for PTSD.
New data from the Centers For Disease Control conclude that nationally, overdose deaths among women have been on the rise since 1999; and that since 2007, more women have died from overdoses than motor vehicle-related injuries.
However, officials in New Mexico say those trends are nothing new in the state.
Navajo President Ben Shelley has declared a state of emergency for drought conditions on the Navajo Nation. Officials are concerned ongoing drought may be creating unsafe conditions for people who need drinkable water.
Minimum wage workers in unincorporated areas of Bernalillo County got a raise on July 1st.
The new county wage law that was passed in April raises the minimum wage from $7.50 and hour to $8.00 an hour for businesses outside Albuquerque city limits. Commissioner Art De La Cruz, a democrat who represents parts of the west side and the south valley was the bill’s sponsor. He says its not a living wage, but that it will help the low paid workers and their communities.
The injury occurred on the job. A bull mounted a cow, and the worker was pinned against the stall. That led to a bloody and severe shoulder injury, surgery, and an inability to work.
“I went almost one month without work, and then after that, they called me back, but I was in no condition to work,” says this worker. He’s asked us not to use his name because it could jeopardize his ability to find future work in the small, New Mexico town of Portales. “I would bleed at work, and that’s how they had me working at the dairy.”
You wake up at three in the morning. In El Paso. You board a bus, and spend the rest of your day herding livestock, picking chilies, or milking cows. Then, at the end of the day, you’re handed cash for your work, but it may not be enough.
“So if we work eight, nine, ten hours, they put down that we work less,” says an Agricultural worker who goes through this process on a regular basis. He’s asked not to use his real name for fear of retaliation. “For example, they don’t pay us for more than eight hours, so if you only get $40, they say that’s what you worked, eight hours.”
New Mexico's agricultural workers face low pay, dangerous conditions, and have few laws to protect them from abuse. Those allegations are contained in a new report from the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty.
Santa Fe skies are obscured by clouds and haze from area wildfires, but fire officials are reassuring residents that the smoky air does not pose immediate health risks for most people.
Several of the wildfires burning in New Mexico have been contained, but the Jaroso Fire northeast of Santa Fe is still raging uncontrolled. Wind is pushing smoke into populated areas of the state, and that has residents concerned.