New Mexico AG clears last 2 mental health providers of fraud

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas reviews documents related to a lawsuit against one of the nation's largest nursing home chains in his office in Albuquerque N.M., on Tuesday, March 31, 2015. Balderas said he decided to pursue the lawsuit following a months' long review of the merits of the case to ensure it was in the best interest of New Mexicans. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)
(AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

ALBUQUERQUE (AP/KRQE) – The last two of 15 mental health nonprofit providers under investigation for possible Medicaid fraud have been cleared by New Mexico’s top prosecutor.

Attorney General Hector Balderas sent a letter to state lawmakers Tuesday, informing them of the outcome of his investigation. He says no patterns of fraud were uncovered.

Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration froze payments to the providers after a 2013 audit alleged they mishandled $36 million in Medicaid funding.

Balderas says separate investigations found there was about $1.16 million in overbilling but no evidence of fraud.

He says it’s now up to the state Human Services Department to resolve what he called a regrettable situation and ensure that New Mexicans get the care they need.

“There needs to be greater details, greater efficiency when referring these cases so that we do not put at risk any patient or vulnerable populations in New Mexico,” Balderas said.

The Governor’s Office released this statement:

Medicaid funds should be used to provide basic health care for those in need, and I will never turn a blind-eye to wealthy CEOs who break the public’s trust and do things like funnel public money to family members and squander tax dollars on private planes.

The Human Services Department also released this statement:

Medicaid dollars should be used to help the people who need it most, and if the Attorney General wants to turn a blind-eye to wealthy CEOs who over-billed and squandered those funds on things like private planes and luxury travel, that’s solely on him. His decision to allow these agencies to get away scot-free reeks of bad politics and shortchanges the people who rely on Medicaid the most.

Balderas argued back that while spending money on private planes and luxury travel may be questionable spending practices, his office did not find it fraudulent.

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