New Mexico Mental Health System—More Fallout from Unaccountable Nonprofit Purge

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April 28, 2015; Albuquerque Journal

Readers may recall that in a strange and massive purge, New Mexico shut down 15 of the state’s nonprofit mental health providers in 2013. (Those who do not can catch up here and here.) The programs had their payments frozen and were unceremoniously replaced by providers from Arizona. The state of New Mexico, based on a consultant’s report, alleged that at that point there was fraud and abuse in the system sufficient to justify the action, but since then, three audits have been completed with two of the providers found to be free of fraud.

Anyway, since then, two of the replacement providers from Arizona have pulled out, with the most recent being La Frontera, based in Tucson. This has caused Senate President pro tempore Mary Kay Papen to call for some accountability from Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration in a four-page letter that was made public Monday.

Papen writes that an independent assessment of La Frontera’s performance shows that the needs of those with serious mental illnesses haven’t been met for almost two years, and that she is concerned about the needs of the clients with yet one more disruption in the works.

“I am deeply concerned about the clients that La Frontera will be leaving behind,” said Papen in a statement, “and the thousands of former clients of the providers that La Frontera replaced who should have been, and were not, served.”

Nearly 3,800 clients will be affected.—Ruth McCambridge