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Judge denies HIV nonprofit’s request

SANTA FE, N.M. — A judge denied a request from a 30-year-old Albuquerque nonprofit that provides services to about 830 HIV-positive clients to restore $710,000 in funding it lost July 1 when a state agency canceled a portion of its contract.

First Judicial District Judge Francis Matthew of Santa Fe also found that New Mexico AIDS Services may continue to fight the loss of contract and money because the state’s procurement code allows it to appeal the Department of Health’s decision.

On July 1, the Department of Health ended NMAS’ $710,000 contract for medical case management services, cutting more than a third of the $1.86 million in state funding the nonprofit received in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Department of Health attorneys contend that the agency ended the contract because NMAS “demonstrated its lack of expertise and capability in this area,” according to court records.

Medical case managers oversee a patient’s compliance with medications, treatments, appointments with physicians and other services connected to a patent’s medical care.

NMAS filed a petition in June warning that the loss of state funding “will put NMAS out of business and irreparably injure over 800 NMAS clients” and asked Matthew to immediately restore state funding.

Jessica Molzen, the nonprofit’s chief operating officer, said NMAS plans to appeal the Department of Health’s decision through District Court. She declined to say what effect the funding loss has had on NMAS’ operations or clients.

“That remains to be seen, based on what happens with this appeal,” Molzen said. The nonprofit continues to serve its patients, she said.

New Mexico AIDS Services, founded in 1985, provides medical and nonmedical case management, mental health, substance abuse, transportation, housing and food assistance and other services for HIV-positive patients in Albuquerque, Farmington and Gallup.

A Health Department spokesman has said the agency increased choices for HIV-positive patients by awarding contracts for medical case management services to three agencies: University of New Mexico Truman Health Services in Albuquerque; Southwest CARE Center in Santa Fe; and First Nations Community Healthsource in Albuquerque.

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