- Associated Press - Saturday, October 25, 2014

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - A Las Cruces behavioral health care provider that closed last year filed a lawsuit Friday against state health officials over suspended Medicaid payments.

Southwest Counseling Center Inc. names the New Mexico Human Services Department in its suit, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported (https://bit.ly/1uVwzvk ).

The nonprofit argues in court documents that its due process rights were violated when the state indefinitely froze payments in June 2013 without a hearing. Attorneys argue Human Services didn’t follow its own internal guidelines for Medicaid fraud investigations and improperly hid records related to the allegations. The provider went on to lose more than $1.3 million in funding and had to shutter.

Southwest Counseling is also naming the state Attorney General’s Office in the suit. The provider says the office’s investigation also violates its due process.

The nonprofit is seeking unspecified damages, costs and attorney fees.

Human Services Department officials said Friday that they had yet to be served with the lawsuit.

In June 2013, the department halted payments to 15 nonprofits that provide mental health and substance abuse services after an audit found what the agency said was a high rate of billing problems and possible mismanagement.

The agency decided last year to shift $7.5 million within its budget to cover startup costs of Arizona companies assigned to take over New Mexico behavioral health providers under investigation. The agency moved money from another part of its budget that pays for a broad range of expenses, including medical and behavioral health care for Medicaid recipients and some administrative costs of the program. Medicaid provides health care for a fourth of the state’s population.


Information from: Las Cruces Sun-News, https://www.lcsun-news.com



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