Carlsbad mental health center faces payment probe

October 14, 2012 • State News

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — A nonprofit center that provides mental health services in Eddy County is being investigated for its billing practices and may be forced to close if its funding is cut off.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports ( ) officials at Carlsbad Mental Health Center say [auth] they are cooperating with an investigation by the state Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Division.

In a statement provided to the Current Argus, the center’s board acknowledged that the state is investigating its billing and record practices.

“It is our understanding this investigation does not involve the quality of patient care,” the board stated. “We are also simultaneously conducting our own internal investigation of the record keeping and billing issues and have uncovered no evidence of wrong-doing.”

The newspaper reports the center could be out of business in 20 days if its funding is cut off.

Center officials said the agency is continuing to provide patient services during the investigation but could collapse in weeks if it runs out of operating funds.

“We need to make sure the local jobs associated with the services provided by CMHC are not lost,” said Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway, who has briefed on the problems. “We understand that this investigation must run its course. But at the same time, we are keenly aware that many people in our community rely on the services that CMHC has provided for almost 30 years. The loss or interruption of these services will likely have a serious impact, not only on the individual clients, but also the community at large.”

Center officials and community leaders are set to meet Monday in Santa Fe with the state Human Services Department, the Attorney General’s Office, local legislators and Gov. Susana Martinez to address the issue and see how it can be resolved quickly.

Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Eddy, told the Current-Argus she is trying to clear her calendar to also attend Monday’s meeting.

“It is really not clear to me what happened,” she said. “I want to make sure that whatever we do is not over-reaching or over-reaction. But we need to do whatever we can to get things fixed. I have heard one side. We need to get to the bottom of what has happened.”

The board said it is willing to work with a state overseer to manage Carlsbad Mental Health’s operations while the investigation continues. In addition, the organization is asking the state to lift the hold on Medicaid funds and work with the organization to develop a solution that protects Medicaid funds and ensures Carlsbad has access to locally provided mental health services.

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