The Associated Press
SANTA FE — A list of 15 New Mexico nonprofit groups whose Medicaid payments were ordered stopped this week after a state audit showed massive mismanagement and possible fraud includes well-known names in behavior health, according to a public records request by the Albuquerque Journal.
The newspaper reports that among the groups targeted by the state Human Services Department were Presbyterian Medical Service Inc., and TeamBuilders Inc., a group run by a Santa Fe couple. Seven southern New Mexico providers linked to Rio Grande Behavioral Health Services also were targeted by the audit.
The list of the groups was provided by the state Human Services Department after the public records request.
New Mexico Human Services Department officials said the audit released Monday found that the groups failed to meet basic standards and overbilled the federal and state government by tens of millions of dollars.
Department Secretary Sidonie Squier said that as a result of the audit, Medicaid payments would stop immediately to all 15 providers and out-of-state managers would be brought to New Mexico to manage behavioral health care services for patients.
In addition, the results of the five-month audit have been forwarded to the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office for further investigation of potential fraud, she said.
But several of the 15 providers, which serve the mentally ill and substance abusers, complained Tuesday that they have not been given information by the department about their alleged shortcomings.
“We’re at a loss,” said Steven Hansen, chief executive officer of Santa Fe-based Presbyterian Medical Services. “Obviously, we’re not perfect; there’s always room for improvement. But if they think we owe money back, we want to know how much and why.”
Hansen told the Journal that he didn’t know his company’s error rate and has not been given any details on the audit’s findings.
TeamBuilders — which Shannon and Lorraine Freedle, of Santa Fe, grew from a tiny operation in Tucumcari to a giant provider of services to more than 3,000 children and families — said its doors will stay open.
“We are absolutely committed to continuing to provide services for all those that rely on us, most of whom live in rural and frontier areas and would not have access to behavioral health services without us,” Shannon Freedle said in an email.
Roque Garcia, CEO of Southwest Counseling Center in Las Cruces, said he hadn’t been given details of any allegations against the nonprofit. Garcia also is CEO of Rio Grande Behavioral Health Services.
“Everyone appears to have been painted with the same brush,” he said.