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N.M. mental health clinic audit details released

KTSM
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POSTED: Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 9:09pm

UPDATED: Monday, September 23, 2013 - 9:23am

New details have been released in the audit that froze funding to many New Mexico mental health clinics after the state found allegations of fraud.

Southwest Counseling Center is nothing but a desolate sign hanging on a building in Las Cruces. Last month, an audit identified the clinic as one of fifteen mental health clinics that allegedly misused $36m in funds.

"It wouldn't make any sense for us to keep giving them to the people that are being investigated," said Governor Susana Martinez.

 Now a new company La Frontera has taken over and is now funneling those Medicaid dollars to the therapists and counselors so that no patients are suffering.

Until recently, former CEO of Southwest Counseling Services, Roque Garcia had no idea why he was given only three days to get up and leave. Then the New Mexico Human Services Department gave all the clinics a summary of the audit.

The audit findings show "an alarming rise in critical incidents affecting consumers' lives- from injuries and the need for emergency services, to homicide, attempted suicide, and suicide," according to the Human Services Department and the hired Public Consulting Group, Inc.

Other findings were related to mismanaging money.

“One CEO and family member s were allegedly paid as much as $1.5m as annual compensation for services,” according to the Human Services Department and the.

Another finding stated one provider purchased services and rented space from a firm that he or she partially owned.

Garcia, now out of a job, due to the audit and investigation said his company is clear of any wrongdoing.

"I'm confident that we will be cleared," said Garcia.

But he says, either way, it may be too late.

"And that person's life can be totally ruined, they can't get a job. They can't get a job, nothing and it's all based on an allegation. This should be a concern to anybody providing healthcare," said Garcia.

Governor Martinez had also mentioned she was in favor of releasing the actual audit, but the Attorney General was not and went to court to keep those details under seal so it would not impede his investigation.
  The state was then only allowed to release a summary of the audit without indicating names and specific clinic details.

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This is all very disturbing. Where was the state and the contracted managed care organization's oversight in all of this? If they had been doing their job clearly things could not have gotten to this point. So much for due process in New Mexico.

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