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Audit shows mismanagement, possible fraud among behavioral health providers

SANTA FE — The Human Services Department said today an audit of 15 providers who get federal and state money to treat the mentally ill and substance abusers throughout New Mexico turned up widespread mismanagement and possible fraud.

The department says the audit documented overpayments to the providers totaling $36 million over a three-and-a-half year period ending in January.

The agency has halted funding to the 15 providers and has turned over the information to the state attorney general.

HSD Secretary  Sidonie Squier said her department has lined up providers from Arizona who will offer technical and other management assistance to the troubled agencies. In some cases they may take over management of  those agencies, she said.

Squier said the goal is to have as little disruption as possible in behavioral health services.

The department did not identify the providers that were audited. But they account for 85 percent of the spending that’s done on the 30,000 most vulnerable and difficult-to-treat consumers.

Squier said the concerns arose after a software system was implemented in early 2012 that was aimed at detecting fraud and abuse.