I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Abolish behavioral health collaborative, senator says
Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, wants to abolish the state behavioral health collaborative.
The collaborative, formed in 2005, aimed to make more efficient the delivery of services to the mentally ill and those struggling with substance abuse.
The state brought together all the state agencies delivering those services into the collaborative. The collaborative is invested with the authority to hire a for-profit company to manage the state’s behavioral health system.
It’s hired two companies since 2005.
“After serving for 40 years as a behavioral health professional, I think it is imperative to point out that, through the state’s contracts with the New Mexico Interagency Behavioral Purchasing Collaborative, 80 million dollars a year are going out of the state, with a significant profit margin, while services to those who really need them are less accessible,” Ortiz y Pino said in a press release.
Ortiz y Pino’s legislation comes more than a week after Gov. Bill Richardson directed the collaborative to put the state’s $1 billion contract out to bid.
Optum’s performance has not lived up to state officials’ expectations, especially after it was discovered that hundreds of providers statewide had to wait up to several months to get paid for services already rendered.
The problem was Optum Health’s electronic claims management system, which the company had touted as a way to promptly pay nonprofits and others working with the mentally ill and those struggling with substance abuse. The system failed under the crush of real-world use soon after it went live July 1.
The problems left many providers cash strapped and disillusioned. The state recently reached an agreement whereby Optum would pay $1.5 million into two separate funds in lieu of a penalty.