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Feds Asked To Review Behavioral Health Shakeup

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New Mexico’s Democratic congressional delegation is calling for a federal investigation into the shakeup of the state’s behavioral health system.

When Governor Susana Martinez’s Human Services Department froze Medicaid payments to 15 of the state’s behavioral health providers as part of a fraud investigation, it left many people needing help for things like addiction or mental health counseling without a place to go.

Almost all of those providers have been cleared of fraud, but New Mexico’s behavioral health system still hasn’t recovered. U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham said the impacts have been severe.

“We’ve got more people in prison, more people without services, higher suicide rates, and we’re second in overdose rates in the nation. It’s outrageous,” she said.

On Friday Lujan Grisham, along with Congressman Ben Ray Lujan and Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, sent a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell demanding an investigation and calling the disruption of behavioral health services “unwarranted and reckless.”

The letter also asks the federal government to come up with new rules to keep such a disruption from happening again.

Ed Williams came to KUNM in 2014 by way of Carbondale, Colorado, where he worked as a public radio reporter covering environmental issues. Originally from Austin, Texas, Ed has reported on environmental, social justice, immigration and Native American issues in the U.S. and Latin America for the Austin American-Statesman, Z Magazine, NPR’s Latino USA and others. In his spare time, look for Ed riding his mountain bike in the Sandias or sparring on the jiu-jitsu mat.
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