The practice of sending out unpleasant news on a Friday afternoon is known in the news business as a “dump.” And that’s what happened last week when Attorney General Gary King released parts of an audit of behavioral health service providers just before the end of business Friday.
It’s on the basis of the $3 million, no-bid audit by Boston company Public Consulting Group, Inc. that Gov. Susana Martinez’s Human Services Department suspended 15 New Mexico mental health services providers earlier this year. The providers were accused of Medicaid billing fraud so widespread that the state claimed it had no choice but to stop payments (some funding has been restored). Department officials then turned the audit over to King to investigate possible criminal charges. Because of the ongoing criminal investigation, both Human Services and the Attorney General’s Office claim that the audit — paid for by taxpayers — must remain confidential. In their view, because a criminal investigation was initiated, the audit falls under an exemption to New Mexico’s public records law.
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