Luján Voices Concerns With New Mexico’s Behavioral Health System In Hearing With HHS Secretary

U.S. CONGRESSIONAL News:

  • Luján Secures Commitment from Secretary to Work Together on Critical Issue Facing New Mexico

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District participated in an Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing on the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) budget for Fiscal Year 2016. 

During the hearing, he voiced his concerns with the quality of and access to behavioral health care services in New Mexico. Below is a transcript of Luján’s exchange with HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

Luján: I appreciate that Madam Secretary. Thank you for your response there. And I do want to raise an issue that has great concern to my constituents and to myself back in New Mexico. It’s now been over 18 months since the state of New Mexico claimed credible allegations of fraud, or their allegations of fraud, against 15 behavioral health providers, resulting in the eventual closure and replacement by five Arizona behavioral health providers.

This transition and turmoil has raised significant concerns across access to care, especially in light of recent reports that the new providers are financially unstable. In fact, one provider is already pulling out of New Mexico. The recently elected New Mexico Attorney General has also released the audit that led to the suspension, and it shows a lack of underlying basis for many of the allegations of fraud.

My staff has had several meetings with CMS and I’m very concerned that we are not making progress. When payment suspensions are put into place, what can CMS do to ensure states are acting in good faith, and what is CMS doing to stop the reoccurrence of this happening, both in New Mexico and other states? And can I have your commitment that we can work together on this particular issue and meet with the delegation?

Burwell: I do want to work with you on this issue. Know it is one of concern in terms of making sure that people have access to those benefits.

Luján: I appreciate that. Thank you very much. I yield back the balance of my time.

Click here to watch his remarks.

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