Proposed Bills Require Oversight and Competitive Bid for Behavioral Health Contractors


SANTA FE – New Mexico’s Legislative Health and Human Services Committee (LHHSC) has endorsed legislation, which requires more transparency and accountability of performing behavior health audits and secures avenues to keep in-state providers in business, while tightening up procurement policy.

Senate Majority Whip Tim Keller, D-17 Bernalillo, proposed the bills as a result of the behavioral health audit catastrophe this year, implementing a freeze of Medicaid dollars to 14 behavioral health providers throughout the state.

“It has become abundantly clear there is need for legislation regarding behavioral health, especially when considering the procurement code, the audit process and oversight of policy,” Keller said.

The current Arizona company that is under contract to provide behavioral health services in the state did not go through an open competative bid process. According to Keller, the Behavioral Health Fair Contracting Act will provide a fair avenue for contractors.

“This loophole has been used to do no-bid for contracts, practically in emergency status. This is exactly why there’s Swiss cheese all over the procurement code and officials have no way of helping,” Keller said.

The Behavioral Health Fair Contracting Act has several components designed to assure a stable and fair avenue for in-state providers to have an opportunity to serve the public. It requires that all behavioral health contracts must be subject to a competitive bid process and preference must be given to in-state providers. Also, a three month or less non-reoccurring exemption is permitted for emergencies.

The additional bill, deemed the Behavior Health Reporting and Accountability Act, specifies creating a bi-partisan, behavioral health oversight and accountability board made up of in-state health care professionals. The board would be responsible for reviewing and approving the certification of behavioral health contracts, providing a venue for public comment and monitoring performance of service providers.