Judge won't lift freeze on mental health payments

Posted at: 07/25/2013 2:46 PM
Updated at: 07/25/2013 5:09 PM
By: Barry Massey, The Associated Press

SANTA FE (AP) -- A federal judge has ruled in favor of New Mexico freezing payments to behavioral health services providers in a dispute over possible fraud, waste and billing problems.

U.S. District Judge M. Christina Armijo on Thursday denied a request from eight nonprofit providers that asked the court to lift the state's suspension of Medicaid payments for mental health and substance abuse services to needy New Mexicans.

The ruling came as a legislative committee heard testimony from social services advocates who warned that the payment freeze would cause a serious disruption of behavioral health services to Medicaid recipients.

The Human Services Department contends it has taken steps to prevent an interruption of services. Contracts have been signed with five providers from Arizona to step in and provide assistance.

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