The Democratic members of the New Mexico congressional delegation sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius asking for a public forum on the disruptions to behavioral health services in New Mexico.
They request the meeting within the next two weeks. Congress is currently on recess and members of the delegation are in the state meeting with constituents.
The disruption in services came after the state suspended payments to 15 behavioral health providers following an audit that allegedly shows fraud and mismanagement at the providers. The state has since contracted with Arizona companies to provide the same services.
“While the State has publicly affirmed on a number of occasions that there have been no gaps in service due to this issue, we are alarmed by the increasing reports to the contrary from advocates, providers, consumers, and families regarding significant disruption to access to quality care,” the letter says. “We have heard from constituents and their caregivers, all of whom are anxious, fearful and confused about what to expect. They have had appointments delayed and cancelled, and changes in providers with whom they had relationships of trust. We have also heard from multiple sources that a significant number of clinical staff have left the programs and, in some cases, have left the state entirely. While these occurrences are expected in a time of transition, the extent of the change warrants careful oversight.”
The letter also acknowledges that state legislators have sent similar letters expressing concern over how the suspension of services happened and the lack of transparency.
The Attorney General has asked the Susana Martinez administration not to release the audit itself pending an investigation. The Martinez administration has complied with the request. State Auditor Hector Balderas was able to obtain the audit, but only through a court order that stops him from releasing information.
The letter is signed by Senator Tom Udall, Senator Martin Heinrich, Representative Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham.
The full text of the letter is available below: