Judge blasts Human Services for food aid delays

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Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 11:00 pm | Updated: 12:14 am, Sun May 18, 2014.

ALBUQUERQUE — A federal judge on Thursday chided the New Mexico Human Services Department, saying it was failing in its obligation to provide food and health care to the poor in a timely way, and ordered the department to immediately process thousands of backlogged applications for benefits.

The ruling potentially paves the way for thousands of people to qualify for benefits that some have been waiting months to receive.

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  • Pierce Knolls posted at 10:05 am on Fri, Jun 6, 2014.

    Mister Pierce Posts: 2709

    Oh those poor HHS case workers, with their job security, their retirement, and their paid vacation, sick, and holidays. The horror of having to cope with improved software is certainly comparable to suffering through unemployment and food insecurity while watching one's children go hungry.

    If my choice is to feel sorry for the unemployed people literally going hungry while they wait for the state case workers to sort out some software problem or to feel sorry for the case workers (who have full bellies and job security) then I'm going to pick the starving serfs over the comfortable government workers every time.

    Software (and hardware) is constantly improving and getting upgraded. It's a fact of life out in the private sector that employees of businesses are constantly dealing with software changes, updates, and upgrades. Dealing with things like that should be routine, not some hardship that leaves hungry people unfed.

  • DebsV505 posted at 5:30 pm on Thu, Jun 5, 2014.

    DebsV505 Posts: 1

    Mr. Knolls, you often criticize and pass judgment on people you don’t know. Have you ever worked in an HSD office? Have you ever applied for assistance? Judging by your insulting comments and hateful repertoire my guess is NO! You should be thoughtful of your comments regarding issues you obviously have no understanding of.

    As a former recipient of assistance I understand how urgent this situation is and sympathize with all those affected. As Mr. Downs mentioned, these issues are related to ASPEN. In 2012, ISD received the Timeliness Performance Award and NM ranked 4th in the nation for SNAP (food stamps) application processing timeliness, according to HSDs 2012 Annual Report, even with the troublesome, unreliable ISD2 system. So you see Mr. Knolls, case workers are certainly not lazy!

    ASPEN was developed to better serve NM. What new system doesn’t have bugs? I don’t know of anything (or anyone) that is perfect! “Lackadaisical” state employees didn’t just decide to “leave the hungry without food assistance.” Many HSD employees and ASPEN contractors work hard, countless hours. The “lazy, incompetent” case workers were working overtime nonstop to clear the backlog long before this article. Months of training couldn’t prepare them enough for what they are going through now. Try using a new system, completely different from the only system used in the last 25 years. How many applications would YOU process in a day? Who are you to call anybody lazy or incompetent???

    ASPEN Fact Sheet: http://www.hsd.state.nm.us/Legislative

  • Pierce Knolls posted at 12:59 pm on Fri, May 16, 2014.

    Mister Pierce Posts: 2709

    Apparently I live in a world where New Mexico's Human Services Department case workers are too lazy or incompetent to process hungry people's requests for emergency food benefits in less than a month, when those requests are supposed to be processed in one day.

    I also live in a world where government employees at the VA let sick veterans die while languishing on secret waiting lists for treatment, which those VA employees tried to cover up.

  • Kenneth Kast posted at 12:03 pm on Fri, May 16, 2014.

    the santa fe observer Posts: 3

    What world do you live in?

  • Patricio R. Downs posted at 11:50 am on Fri, May 16, 2014.

    Patricio Downs Posts: 64

    'Tis a mess, to be sure. There are lots and lots of issues with the Human Services Department, and not all of them relate to the ACA, (often called "Obamacare"). This happens to be one of them.

    A short history: The HSD replaced an old system for determining benefits and eligibility called ISD2. This thing had been used for 25+ years and wasn't able to keep up with its workload. A few years ago, the HSD announced their ASPEN system would take the place of ISD2 and would allow for storing information electronically. Sounds good in theory, yes? There have been several issues that have cropped up with the system, and I would be willing to bet that the "disenrollment after 30 days if no case worker reviews it" issue was probably a "feature" some programmer designed in because there is a law in another state that requires that to happen. (Most computer systems of this type are typically used in multiple states.)

    Any way you slice it, it's a foul situation. Here's hoping the HSD makes a bona fide effort to fix it quickly, for the sake of vulnerable New Mexicans.

  • Pierce Knolls posted at 8:50 am on Fri, May 16, 2014.

    Mister Pierce Posts: 2709

    Thanks to Obamacare, soon the same sort of lackadaisical state employees responsible for leaving the hungry without food assistance will also be responsible for doling out medical care. If our nation's premier healthcare system for heroes, the VA, let's vets languish and die while languishing on secret waiting lists, just wait 'till we see what expanded Medicaid inflicts upon the huddled masses.

  • Julian R. Grace posted at 8:32 am on Fri, May 16, 2014.

    Logies New Mexican Posts: 239

    Somebody must be lying and I don't think it's the judge. Between this terrible failure and the behavioral health debacle I see a pattern of ineptitude or corruption that some people (Matt Kennecott) think no one is out here in taxpayer land and voterland are watching and very seriously paying attention to. Don't all of these characters involved work for the Martinez administration? Shouldn't the governor be answering to the public here? And what about the Dept. Of Education not spending the required funds for special education and developmentally disabled? Stop putting reelection commercials on TV and do what you were elected to do.


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