ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A group of state legislators has asked the feds to step into the ongoing dispute that has blocked Medicaid funding for more than a dozen behavioral health service providers.
The Martinez administration's Human Services Department froze payments to the group after an audit found alleged overbilling as well as accusations of fraud.
The lawmakers are concerned that because of the thousands of people who use services through these providers, suspending payments puts an already less-than-robust behavioral health care system in jeopardy.
The Martinez administration insists it's not so.
In an urgent plea a state legislative committee sent a letter this month to the federal Department of Health and Human Services asks the secretary to "...provide the state of New Mexico with written assurances that the state's Medicaid funding will not be at risk or in peril."
Lawmakers like state Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, worry that with the Martinez administration's freeze of funding for providers in nine communities the behavioral health network in New Mexico will wither on the vine.
"The (state) department's position is, 'Eh, it's not going to cause any problems. We just bring in these Arizona managers, they take over, we get rid of these fraudulent local managers," Ortiz y Pino told KRQE News 13.
The Democratically-controlled legislative committee that the senator helps run doesn't believe that will work.
"We fear that, within days or weeks, New Mexico's existing and already fragile statewide behavioral health system will be the casualty of the misapplication by the HSD of these new PPACA Medicaid fraud and abuse regulations," the committee wrote in its letter.
The Martinez administration disagrees saying a management group from Arizona will get the job done without any interruption in service.
"There's been broad agreement that we're following the law in regards to the approximately $36 million in funding to help those most in need (that) was misspent and not used to properly provide behavioral health services," HSD spokesman Matt Kennicott said.
The feds have received the lawmaker's letter from lawmakers but so far does not have a response.
The state plans to spend more than $15 million to bring in the management group from Arizona, which has drawn attention for fees that climb up to $300 an hour for top executives.
The U.S. House has agreed on a national budget and now the bill’s headed to the Senate. What the budget bill’s passage could mean for New Mexico’s oil and natural gas industries.
A touching four-minute video showing the sorrows and outpouring of support for Sandy Hook victim Emilie Parkers family has gone viral.
Santa can't do it all alone. He needs elves to help with the toys and he needs the post office to help with the deliveries.
After joining a program that helps disadvantage kids, a man entrusted with children is accused of using the program to prey on a young boy.
Thieves are leaving big, gaping holes around Roswell.