January 29, 2015

HSD responds to release of behavioral health audit

Health MoneyThe Human Services Department is the part of the executive branch that is tasked with deciding what “credible allegations of fraud” are for organizations that use Medicaid funds.

New Mexico learned that after the funding was cut off for 15 behavioral health providers following an audit in 2013. The audit remained largely under wraps until Attorney General Hector Balderas released the audit on Thursday afternoon.

New Mexico Political Report asked the Human Services Department for a reaction to the news.

Here is the emailed response from department spokesman Matt Kennicott, in full:

The AG is the investigative entity. As we’ve said from the beginning it is incumbent upon them to make decisions regarding what will or will not impact their investigations. Again, it is important to remember that the initial Optum report identified rampant over billing, along with a lengthy set of whistleblower allegations, and those combined with the PCG audit all comprised the referral to the AG.

We are deeply concerned with Medicaid funds being wasted or stolen and agree that the previous attorney general did not take this matter seriously enough. We are hopeful that AG Balderas will be able to undertake swift and thorough investigations.

Balderas said that he spoke to the Human Services Department on Wednesday evening before releasing the audit on Thursday.

The department is under new leadership as Sidonie Squier left the position of secretary of HSD last year. Gov. Susana Martinez selected Brent Earnest to replace Squier and he currently serves as secretary-designate. The Senate will likely vote on confirmation for Earnest this legislative session.

Earnest said there would be no change from the previous secretary on many issues, including on the audit.