Public Health New Mexico

Public Health New Mexico
7:24 am
Wed September 18, 2013

Open Government Group Sues To Force Audit Release

Credit Rrrodrigo via Flickr

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government has filed a lawsuit seeking public disclosure of an audit that identified potential overbillings and fraud by providers of mental health and substance abuse services.

The Human Services Department has frozen payments to more than a dozen behavioral health providers because of the 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
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
11:22 am
Sun September 8, 2013

Local Behavioral Health CEOs On Payroll Of AZ For-Profit Co.

Credit jetheriot via Flickr

Many of the CEOs who were removed from their positions at local behavioral health providers were employees of a for-profit company from Arizona, according to The Albuquerque Journal

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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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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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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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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
9:48 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Group Alleges New Mexico Agency Discriminates Against Non-English Speakers

Credit Geoff Peters 604 via Flickr

The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty alleges the state's Department of Workforce Solutions — the entity responsible for unemployment benefits — is violating federal civil rights laws by discriminating against non-English speakers.

Approximately 63,000 people are currently unemployed in New Mexico. It's also estimated that nearly a third of New Mexicans speak a language other than English in the home, and that's part of the problem.

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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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Poverty and Public Health
10:58 am
Fri August 9, 2013

Funding For Arizona Behavioral Health Providers Delayed

Credit jeffwilcox via Flickr

A transfer of over $10 million to Arizona behavioral health contractors has been put on hold by the state Legislative Finance Committee. 

NMInDepth.com reports LFC Director David Abbey has stopped the transfer so that the committee can review the request from the Human Services Department. 

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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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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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Poverty and Public Health
10:40 am
Wed July 24, 2013

Local Farmers Markets Help Reduce Obesity Rates

Vendors display fresh produce at the market
Deborah Martinez

Farmers markets are 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.

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Poverty and Public Health
6:43 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Hundreds Gather, Urging Officials To Reinstate Funding For Behavioral Health Services

Those gathered were from affected communities across the state.
Mark Venner

Exercising the right to peacefully assemble, this afternoon hundreds of people from across New Mexico stood shoulder to shoulder in a Legislative Finance Committee meeting, urging lawmakers and the Cabinet Secretary of the Human Services Department to reinstate funding for Behavioral Health Services across the state.

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