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Heavily redacted behavioral health audit released

—Erin Muffoletto, NMFOG

In response to a lawsuit filed by The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government (NMFOG), the Attorney General of New Mexico and the New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) have released new portions of the Behavioral Health Audit report, which HSD relied upon in halting Medicaid payments to health care providers in New Mexico until new management was put in place. NMFOG had been forced to file the lawsuit in State District Court in Santa Fe in mid-September after the Attorney General and HSD had refused NMFOG’s request for the report, providing only a heavily redacted version.

The Attorney General and HSD still refuse to release the entire report. The version released on October 18 is still significantly redacted, and FOG will continue its efforts to obtain release of the full report. To see the full text of the released Behavioral Health Audit, see “NMFOG in the News” section on the www.nmfog.org website.


The New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition

—Adrienne R. Smith

The New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition (NMDCC), based in Placitas, is a statewide coalition created to promote the voice of family and professional caregivers and those they serve. The organization advocates for direct care workers’ education, training, benefits, wages, professional development, and networking.

NMDCC will host a Listening Session for caregivers on November 16, from 10:00 a.m. to noon at the Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. Target audiences include caregivers, care recipients, friends and family members of caregivers, and advocates of persons with disabilities, and those who are elderly. The event is supported by the Health Ministry Partnership with the Mission Committee of the church.

Direct-care workers’ salaries nationally, and in New Mexico, are often below the median area income. The average hourly wage of a New Mexico home health care aide is $8.54. Many caregivers work two jobs and often still may not earn enough to pay for health insurance. The Coalition reaches 4,500 New Mexicans today.

Reaching out to this hard-working and somewhat isolated group of workers, the Coalition will provide literacy, job training, and professional education so that they may earn higher salaries and advance their careers. The New Mexico Direct Care Coalition was formed in 2009 in direct response to low pay, few benefits, and the lack of support for caregivers statewide. For more details, visit: www.nmdirectcaresupport.org.
 
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