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NM HSD Secretary Goes to Washington (Hopefully, Pay-to-Play Won't Follow)

October 2, 2009, 12:00 am
By SFR Staff
Well, maybe this means New Mexico's pay-to-play stigma has faded...

Obama has tapped New Mexico Human Services Department Secretary Pam Hyde to be the administrator of the US Health and Human Services Department's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Now, this isn't to smear Hyde personally, but New Mexico's mental health system (and Hyde headed up the New Mexico Behavioral Health Collaborative) has been controversial at best, suspicious at worst. If you remember, the state's previous mental health contractor, Value Options, hired former Gov. Bill Richardson Chief of Staff Dave Contarino to help craft its bid renewal. The bid was rejected in favor of OptumHealth's proposal, which was in turn crafted with the help of a consultant formerly of Richardson's inner circle, according to the Albuquerque Journal. Both companies donated large sums to Richardson campaign.

The press weren't the only ones suspicious of this whole deal; a federal grand jury subpoenaed the documents related to the statewide mental health contract in May. For more information, read Trip Jennings comprehensive piece from back in May.

Of Hyde, Richardson says in a congratulatory press release: "She not only improved the services available through the Human Services Department but took on the task of improving and streamlining the way behavioral health services are administered in our state, something no other state has tried, much less accomplished."

That may be true and Hyde certainly deserves congratulations as a visionary. Let's just hope that this mess doesn't follow her and infect the nation's mental health system.

 

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