New Mexico Removes Mental Health Services From Medicaid Managed Care Program
Mental health care will be withdrawn from Salud!, New Mexico's Medicaid managed care program, and will "return to fee-for-service" within 90 days, the Albuquerque Journal reports. On Oct. 19, HCFA approved New Mexico's application for a two-year renewal for Medicaid physical and surgical services under the managed care program, with mental health services excluded. According to the state's legislators, mental health services "have deteriorated" under managed care: "residential treatment centers and other programs have closed down and psychiatrists have left the state or refused Medicaid patients because of low payments, growing paperwork and denials of care." Although she refused to speculate about what federal officials would have done had New Mexico included mental health in its renewal application, a federal spokesperson implied that HCFA may have refused the renewal, saying, "(New Mexico officials) knew we had serious concerns about access and quality of care in the behavioral health component [of the program]." She added, "Rather than face possible disapproval, they decided they would withdraw (the request)." Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) pointed out that currently "the system is not working for kids," whom the Journal says make up "most" of those enrolled in Salud! Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) "cheer[ed]" the change, saying the action "holds out hope for getting on a better path for correcting some of the problems that have emerged in recent months. I believe there has been something close to a meltdown in the behavioral care system for the state." The state has been facing a lawsuit charging that Medicaid services have been inadequate for children, especially those will mental illnesses (Jadrnak, Albuquerque Journal, 10/20).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.