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Judge rules against release of behavioral health audit

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A state district judge in Santa Fe has denied an open government group’s request to release the audit of 15 behavioral health providers that led the Human Services Department to halt their Medicaid funding.

Judge Sarah Singleton agreed with Attorney General Gary King’s office that the audit by Boston-based Public Consulting Group can be withheld because of a law enforcement exception to the Inspection of Public Records Act.

King’s office said releasing the full audit to the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government could harm his ongoing investigation into whether Medicaid fraud occurred. Singleton agreed in a ruling filed yesterday.

She reviewed the audit following a court hearing last month, and said it contains confidential information and identifies potential witnesses who may be sources or who may be charged with a crime in the future.

A Las Cruces judge issued a similar ruling last month after the Las Cruces Sun-News and New Mexico In Depth tried to obtain the audit from the Human Services Department.

The audit was the premise for the department’s replacing a dozen of the 15 nonprofits with companies brought in from Arizona.

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