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Candidates fight disclosure of HSD audit

One similarity between Susana Martinez and Gary King? Secrecy

June 20, 2014, 4:30 pm

Officials under the direction of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and Democratic Attorney General Gary King are in possession of a secret audit that has led to upheaval in the way behavioral health providers across the state treat New Mexico's most vulnerable citizens. Both officials can order the release the document whenever they want. 

Instead the two gubernatorial candidates have been spending taxpayer money to fight against the audit's full disclosure to the public. 

Thursday, The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government renewed its request to First Judicial District Court Judge Sarah Singleton that she order the release of an audit prepared by Boston-based Public Consulting Group for the state's Human Services Department. 

HSD used the audit to justify freezing Medicaid payments to 15 behavioral health care providers in the state. It then spent millions on no-bid contracts to Arizona companies tasked with taking over the New Mexico providers that HSD accused of fraud. Upheaval ensued and HSD, refusing to release the audit, passed the buck to King's office, which has been investigating the fraud allegations. 

In December, Singleton ruled that major portions of the audit should remain secret pending an investigation by the Attorney General, citing an exemption in IPRA that permits agencies to prevent inspection of law enforcement records that reveal "confidential sources, methods, information or individuals accused but not charged with a crime." The judge left the door open for disclosure of the audit in six months. 

NMFOG's June 19 court filing argues the audit's conclusions and the Attorney General's investigation have so far produced "radically different" results. King's investigators found only 10 percent of the overbillings predicted by PCG's method in its probe of two behavioral health providers, it argues. Authorities released portions of the audit after King's office cleared two of the providers of fraud.

NMFOG argues that disclosure of the audit will not undermine King's investigation into the remaining providers because "the vastly different figures cannot have resulted from the same method."

"A year has passed since the audit was issued, and now that we have seen portions of the report, it's clear that disclosure of the full report will not reveal confidential sources, methods or any other information that will impede the Attorney General's investigation of the remaining providers," attorney Gregory P. Williams, president-elect of NMFOG, says in a release. 

The filing said the state opposes NMFOG's motion to release the rest of the audit. It asks Singleton for a hearing to revisit its request for disclosure of the audit.

Supplemental Motion for Full Behavioral Health Care Report by justinhorwath


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