April 6, 2016

After AG clears final providers, Dems slam HSD, Martinez

Democrats slammed the Susana Martinez administration, specifically the Human Services Department, after an investigation by the Attorney General cleared the final health providers accused of possible fraud.

Leaders of the state Senate have been harshly critical of the process on how HSD cut off Medicaid funding following what the HSD called “credible allegations of fraud.” In all, the department cut off Medicaid funding from 15 providers. All fifteen have since been cleared.

Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, called the actions “unconscionable.”

“Now we know that all the harm that was done to behavioral health providers across the state, and to their thousands of patients and clients, did not need to happen,” Papen said. “The State’s accusations caused chaos in the lives of many of our most vulnerable residents with serious mental health issues.  I think they–and the providers whose reputations and businesses were ruined–are owed an apology.”

Some of the providers who had Medicaid funding cut off have since went out of business. And three of the five Arizona providers the state contracted with to fill the gap have either left or announced they are leaving soon.

“The 15 providers were falsely accused of crimes, and many were forced to shut down their operations without any due process,” Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez said. “It was one of the worst acts of a Governor’s administration in New Mexico’s entire history.”

The Democrats in the congressional delegation have also been following the story; they recently introduced federal legislation to head off future healthcare shakeups in New Mexico and other states.

“It’s clear that this was a manufactured crisis that dangerously left patients without the care they deserved and had come to rely on, caused hundreds of New Mexicans to lose their jobs, and wasted $28.8 million in taxpayer dollars,” a joint statement from the members said.

Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall joined with Representatives Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham on the statement.

HSD has repeatedly ignored requests for comment from NM Political Report on this stories about the behavioral health shakeup.

However, Martinez gave a comment to the Albuquerque Journal.

“Medicaid funds should be used to provide basic health care for those in need, and I will never turn a blind eye to wealthy CEOs who break the public’s trust and do things like funnel public money to family members and squander tax dollars on private planes,” Martinez said.