State Senate Passes Bill To Protect Behavioral Health Industry And Clients

Senate Pro Tempore Mary Kay Papen


SANTA FE – Thursday, the Senate passed Senate Bill 55 (SB 55) to clarify the definition of Medicaid fraud, and mandate that due process is given to health providers who are accused of Medicaid fraud.

The bill is sponsored by Senate Pro Tempore Mary Kay Papen, D-Dona Ana. Known as a tireless advocate for behavioral health issues, Papen has been especially vocal following the debacle of 2013 in which most of the state’s behavioral health providers were accused of Medicaid fraud and forced out of business without due process by the Department of Health.

“I applaud and thank the Senator for bringing this bill forward. Due process is a basic American right and denial of that is unacceptable,” said Sen. Bill O’Neill, D-Bernalillo, another vocal behavioral health advocate. “I wholeheartedly support this bill to protect the rights of providers and to ensure clients receive the services they so desperately need without interruption.”

The bill was passed by a vote of 32-8, with all Senate Democrats in support.

“I’m pleased with the outcome of the vote on the Senate floor today,” Papen said. “I look forward to the bill’s journey through the House and hope legislators there will recognize the importance of what this bill does. We cannot afford to get ourselves into another mess and we must move forward with the proper protections in place for all stakeholders involved in this area.”

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