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Ruling sought on release of behavioral health providers audit

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SANTA FE – In the ongoing dispute over state Auditor Hector Balderas’ access to an audit of 15 behavioral health providers done for the Human Services Department, the department on Wednesday asked a state district judge to hold a hearing to determine whether – and to what extent – the audit is subject to disclosure.

The HSD, responding to a subpoena issued at Balderas’ request, said it wants the court’s guidance and asked for a private hearing – with just the parties involved in attendance.

Meanwhile, Balderas’ office on Wednesday continued its discussions with the Attorney General’s Office in an effort to work out an agreement about the terms of the auditor’s access to the audit.

The HSD ordered the audit by a Boston firm, and its findings were the basis for halting Medicaid payments to 15 nonprofits providing behavioral health services. HSD said the audit showed overpayments, mismanagement and possible fraud, and turned the findings over to Attorney General Gary King to investigate.

The HSD says the attorney general specifically requested that the audit not be publicly released so the investigation would not be jeopardized. The agency said it has released the audit only to the attorney general, the U.S. attorney, the FBI and the state Taxation and Revenue Department.

The HSD’s motion said that, according to the attorney general, the auditor failed to reply to telephone calls and emails on Monday and Tuesday about completing an agreement. Because of his “failure to act in good faith” in its negotiations with the attorney general, the HSD was uncertain how to respond to the subpoena in light of the attorney general’s request that the audit not be released, the motion says.

Balderas sought the subpoena, which was issued by a state District Court, after HSD refused to give him a copy of the audit, saying it could jeopardize the AG’s investigation.

Balderas says his mandate to audit HSD’s finances requires him to review the Boston firm’s audit, and that he can do that without compromising the investigation.

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