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New Mexico Behavioral Health Auditor Helped Vet Arizona Firms Before Finishing Work

Audio

Aired 9/11/13

In June the state of New Mexico froze Medicaid payments to 15 behavioral health providers due to "credible allegations of fraud." The agencies were then taken over by five mental health firms from Arizona. But controversial practices by auditors are raising new questions about the states actions.

When the New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) froze Medicaid funding to mental health providers, they passed information to the attorney general for possible criminal charges and drew up contracts with Arizona firms to take over. The basis for the move came from an audit conducted by Massachusetts based Public Consulting Group (PCG).

But New Mexico lawmakers learned this week that PCG, along with New Mexico HSD officials, had visited at least one Arizona firm before even starting the controversial audit which shuttered 15 New Mexico providers.

PCG Representative Thomas Aldridge spoke to a New Mexico legislative subcommittee.

"It happened before the audit ever began, so I don't know if that in particular," Aldridge stammered. "We were engaged in... It was an hour-long meeting."

Aldridge added that he did not see a conflict of interest in his duties as auditor and as advisor to HSD on the competency of Arizona companies to come to New Mexico. However, State Senator Mary Kay Papen had a different opinion.

"I think you're there auditing our providers in this state," Papen said. "Then for you then to be going out and picking new providers before the audit has been finished and the attorney general has finished, I guess I do see that as a conflict of interest, but I guess we have a disagreement."

To date, the New Mexico Human Services Department has refused to release the audit in question to lawmakers, reporters or even those accused of fraud.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Mickey'

Mickey | September 12, 2013 at 2:50 p.m. ― 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Looks like the former CEO of Southwest Counseling and 7 other CEO,S vetted Arizona for profit Providence Service Corp. ten years prior. Providence did not have to vett at all. They just reaped in pass through Medicaid money with no RFP and no local State businesses were given the chanceto compete. Ironic that they are crying about the old switcharoo. Rio Grande invented it and made the mistake about hiding this from the media until the Albuquerque Journal broke it. Funny how Rio Grande thought they were invisible and still remain arrogantly in denial. Exactly what Sociopaths do.

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