Audit Public at Last

New Mexico attorney general releases behavioral health audit

Nearly two years after its completion, Attorney General Hector Balderas has made public most of a controversial audit that led to the state's shutdown and takeover of 15 behavioral health providers.

The audit, conducted by Boston-based Public Consulting Group through a contract with the state Human Resources Department, found $36 million of Medicaid over-billings between the 15 New Mexico-based providers. In June 2013, just three days after PCG completed the report, HSD's then-Secretary Sidonie Squier told the providers that she had no choice but to cut all their Medicaid funding.

That's when Arizona-based companies moved in to take over services.

Squier also gave the audit to then-Attorney General Gary King, with both officials declining to allow the public to review it. Balderas, then state auditor, also wouldn't disclose the audit at the time.

The refusal to release the audit led to public outcry and claims that the providers didn't receive due process. New Mexico In Depth and the Foundation for Open Government have been battling for the audit's release in court.

At a press conference today, Balderas said he was releasing the audit and making attempts to speed up his office's investigation into the alleged fraud of the 15 providers. The report was redacted to remove some names and dates of services.

"We balanced public disclosure of the report and also redacted what we thought was important," Balderas said.

King's office cleared two providers of wrongdoing before Balderas took the reins this year. Balderas said a third investigation has been completed and will be announced in the coming weeks, four more are ongoing and eight haven't yet begun.

"This process has taken too long and citizens deserve better at this point," he said.

Balderas' office is also currently asking the state legislature and Gov. Susana Martinez for $1 million for his office to speed up the investigation. If he gets the money, he says it will speed up the timeline of the investigation from the original timeline of five-and-a-half to six years down to six to eight months.

"Ultimately, the attorney general's office needs to be more timely in its investigations," he said.

Meanwhile, his office released the status of its investigation into each provider shortly after the press conference:

1. Border Area Mental Health Services – not begun

2. Counseling Associates – not begun

3. Easter Seals - completed

4. Families & Youth Inc. (or FYI) – in progress

5. Hogares- in progress

6. Partners in Wellness – not begun

7. Pathways – not begun

8. Presbyterian Medical Services – not begun

9. Service Organization for Youth (SOY) - completed

10.  Southern New Mexico Human Development – not begun

11.  Southwest Counseling Center – in progress

12.  Teambuilders – not begun

13.  The Counseling Center - completed

14.  Valencia Counseling Services  - in progress

15.  YDI – not begun

SFR will provide further coverage later today dissecting the audit. In the meantime, read the entire 339-page document below:

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