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Our constitution guarantees us the right to presumed innocence until proven guilty. If we follow the thinking of New Mexico's Health and Human Services Department they can presume guilt while showing absolutely no evidence to anyone. If this is allowed to stand any provider of healthcare is at risk. We cannot allow our constitution to be ignored.
On Monday the 24th of June NM Cabinet Secretary Sidonie Squier met with 15 Behavioral Health agencies. These agencies represent more than 2,000 employees who serve over 30,000 patients per year. Without warning Secretary Squier informed these agencies they had failed a recent audit and as a result all Medicaid and State funding would immediately halt. These agencies were told that nothing else could be discussed and no details of these allegations of fraud were released. HSD then went on a media blitz releasing the names of the 15 agencies alleging the agencies were corrupt. Without funding these agencies will eventually be forced to close their doors. These actions suggest, Guilty until Proven innocent. The Secretary also indicated that organizations from Arizona (that have never been through this type of audit and have not responded to an RFP) will be brought in to provide services. HSD has assured all legislators that no patient will be injured in this transition. To give that type of assurance demonstrates a lack of understanding of mental illness and the magnitude of these actions. We strongly support the investigation by the Attorney General into possible fraud. If, however, the agencies close and there is no fraud found, irreparable harm will have been committed and people’s lives will have been put at risk for no good reason.
WE THE UNDERSIGNED, urge NM Governor Susana Martinez to immediately lift the payment freeze on all 15 Behavioral Health agencies HSD has alleged to have committed fraud. The investigation should continue. However, by freezing the payment of funds before the investigation is conducted, all of the agencies will eventually close their doors. The damage to both the patients who receive services and the staff who are employed by the agencies is irreparable, even if, after the investigation, the allegations prove false. There has been no due process in the state’s actions. Without this due process, it is comparable to a street vendor pointing a finger at a person and saying "you stole," the State then taking that person and cutting off his hand and the street vendor then saying "Oops, nothing was stolen, I made a mistake."