February 10, 2016

‘Angry’ Lujan Grisham wants behavioral health crisis investigation

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she is “angry” over the behavioral health crisis, a day after the Attorney General released a report clearing ten more providers.

Official photo of U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Official photo of U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Lujan Grisham had previously said in statements to other outlets that she supported an investigation into what went wrong, but spoke to NM Political Report on Tuesday while in a car in Washington D.C. on her way to a vote.

“The state needs to investigate exactly how we got here,” she said.

State Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, also called for an investigation into the situation.

The Democrat from Albuquerque added “someone needs to be held accountable” for the shakeup that put many providers out of business. She said that even the transition after the state froze Medicaid funding for the 15 providers was not done well.

“We’ve spent two years with no relief in my opinion,” she said.

The state contracted with Arizona providers to provide behavioral health services. Lujan Grisham says they had “no history in New Mexico” and “no experience” dealing with the problems in the state.

On the federal level, she has been told there isn’t much that can be done, since investigations into Medicaid fraud are done on the state level. She wants that to change.

“Because I don’t think the feds have exercised their roles in oversight, I’m actually working on legislation that would increase what’s required of them in oversight,” she said.

She had more concerns with the federal response, saying the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, came to New Mexico twice; the first time, she thought that “they were disrespectful” so she had officials come out a second time.

“I was really disappointed when CMS declined to take any action after that meeting,” she said.

Still, she said she is pushing for federal action, including a meeting with the White House Chief of Staff.

Lujan Grisham said that the congressional delegation will also be sending another letter to the White House on the issue, looking for more investigation.

And they want to be kept in the loop on any possible investigation by the Attorney General.

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich sent an email to supporters on Tuesday to sign onto a petition calling for an investigation, though the email does not say who should do the investigation.