Federal Judge Takes Behavioral Health Case Under Advisement

Jul 17, 2013

Federal Judge M. Christina Armijo took up the case of behavioral health providers pleading for reinstatement of sanctioned Medicaid funding.
Credit Deborah Martinez

Fourteen Behavioral health providers in New Mexico hoping to have their Medicaid funding reinstated will have to wait at least another day, as the federal court judge asked to decide the issue has taken it under advisement.  

Judge M. Christina Armijo heard arguments for and against a temporary restraining order request to continue funding for the nonprofits whose Medicaid payments have been halted by the state.  The attorney general is now investigating as a result of an audit that allegedly found incidents of fraud and mismanagement by providers. 

Patric Hooper is the attorney for the providers.  He disagreed with Human Services Department attorneys who promised there would be no disruption of service to the 30-thousand children and adults receiving counseling for drug addiction, suicide and other mental health issues.

Hooper said many of those vulnerable clients and providers have longstanding relationships built on trust, and that contracting with a group of Arizona managers slated to take over the caseloads would not result in a seamless transition, as the state claims.

The general counsel for the Human Services Department, Raymond Mensack, responded that the state’s behavioral health management provider, OptumHealth, has developed a crisis critical list of clients who will receive the care they need within 48 hours of the takeover, should the providers who’ve lost their Medicaid funding have to shut their doors.  Several have already furloughed behavioral management staff and others say without federal funding, they will shut down soon. 

The fifteen providers who originally had their funding cut and their areas of service are Hogares, Inc., Partners in Wellness, and Pathways, Albuquerque; TeamBuilders, Santa Fe; Counseling Associates, Roswell; The Counseling Center, Alamogordo; Valencia Counseling Service; Southwest Counseling Center, Families & Youth, and Southern NM Human Development, Las Cruces;  Border Area Mental Health Services, Silver City; Santa Fe-based Presbyterian Medical Services; Easter Seals El Mirador, Santa Fe;  Youth Development Inc., Albuquerque; and Service Organization for Youth, Raton.