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[8 Aug 2011 | No Comment | ]
Emergency Room co-pays ‘just one idea’ for N.M. Medicaid overhaul, HSD spokesman says

Proposed patient fees for emergency room visits sparked concern among American Indian tribal representatives at a meeting with state Medicaid officials last week.

Such measures would create new barriers to American Indians’ access to health care, several tribal officials said.

But patient co-pays are “just one idea” being considered by the Governor’s Medicaid overhaul team, Human Services Department spokesman Matt Kennicott said Monday.

If adopted, co-pays would be imposed on a sliding scale, he said.

Featured, Government, Headline, Health, News, Open Government »

[6 Aug 2011 | No Comment | ]
Tribal representatives concerned about Medicaid overhaul

Human Services Department (HSD) Cabinet Secretary Sidonie “Sidney” Squier got a skeptical reception at her meeting Wednesday with representatives from New Mexico Indian tribes, several of whom voiced concern that her agency’s Medicaid overhaul would create new barriers to American Indians’ access to health care.

HSD has contracted with Alicia Smith & Associates for $1.7 million to redesign the state’s Medicaid health insurance program for people with low incomes or disabilities, and to prepare the state’s application for a “global Medicaid waiver” that Squier said would allow HSD to run the program with less federal oversight and more flexibility.

Featured, Government, Headline, Health, News, Open Government »

[12 Jul 2011 | No Comment | ]
Many female veterans’ PTSD caused by military rapes, not combat

An estimated 3,500 New Mexican female veterans have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a psychological syndrome commonly tied to combat. The vast majority of them were traumatized not by war, however, but by sexual assaults by fellow servicemen, according to New Mexico Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care System officials.
“Eighty to 90 percent” of the state’s female veterans with PTSD identify military sexual assault as their traumatic experience, VA Stress Disorder Treatment Team Coordinator Diane T. Castillo told Veritas New Mexico.
Women veterans are up to 10 percent more likely than males to …

Featured, Government, Health, News, Open Government »

[9 Jun 2011 | No Comment | ]
Sec. Squier rejects call for public Medicaid restructuring task force

© Veritas New Mexico
Updated @9 a.m. — Human Services Department (HSD) Cabinet Secretary Sedonie Squire has rejected a call by more than a dozen health advocacy organizations to create a public Medicaid Redesign Task Force, and to include Medicaid providers, patients and lawmakers in the state’s Medicaid overhaul process.
“As you know, we selected Alicia Smith and Associates to help us lead this redesign and modernization effort,” Squier wrote in a June 1 letter to the New Mexico Medicaid Coalition.
Squier did not address concerns about HSD’s failure to involve Indian tribes …

Featured, Headline, Health, News, Peter St. Cyr »

[2 Jun 2011 | No Comment | ]
Chavez sees ‘crisis’ at UNM Hospital; cites staff intimidation

© Veritas New Mexico
A state lawmaker is urging the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and the school’s Board of Regents to investigate allegations of systematic intimidation and retaliation against doctors and healthcare workers who report patient quality of care issues to management.
“There is a crisis at our flagship institution and those in charge cannot continue to bury their heads in the sand,” Rep. Eleanor Chavez (D-Albuquerque) wrote in a letter to UNM Hospital administrators Wednesday.
Chavez sponsored legislation earlier this year to offer whistleblower protections to hospital physicians and …

Featured, Health, Peter St. Cyr »

[24 May 2011 | No Comment | ]
New Mexico medical marijuana growers avoid federal crackdown

Legal threats from U.S. Attorneys in at least half of the 16 states and District of Columbia that operate medical marijuana programs, along with a rash of recent Drug Enforcement Agency raids in several Western states have not put New Mexico’s program in limbo — yet.
While California, Montana, Washington and Rhode Island reassess their own medical marijuana laws after receiving ominous notices from the federal government that growers and government regulators alike could be subjected to prosecution, New Mexico Department of Health Medical Cannabis Program Manager Dominic Zurlo assured Veritas …

Featured, Government, Health, Investigation, News, Open Government »

[14 May 2011 | No Comment | ]

Just weeks after then-Human Services Department (HSD) cabinet secretary Kathryn “Katie” Falls signed the last of three no-bid state contracts with Alicia Smith & Associates late last year, the company hired her as a consultant.
“Ms. Falls was hired in mid-December with a start date of February 1st,” company founder Alicia Smith wrote in an e-mail to Veritas New Mexico late Friday. “She agreed to begin in mid-January in order to work on a project with another client of the firm.”
Falls resigned her state post Dec. 30, according to HSD …

Featured, Government, Health, Open Government »

[14 May 2011 | No Comment | ]

The company hired to overhaul the state’s $3.9 billion Medicaid system has no corporate clients that would currently represent a conflict of interest, state and company officials said Friday.
The New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) awarded the contract to Washington D.C.-based Alicia Smith & Associates, Monday.
The award was announced Thursday, after a news media inquiry.
The contract’s details, including its price tag, are still being negotiated. A final, signed contract is expected by late May, according to HSD spokeswoman Betina McCracken.
Alicia Smith & Associates has helped several other states revamp their …

Featured, Government, Health, Open Government »

[12 May 2011 | No Comment | ]

The New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) has awarded a contract to overhaul the state Medicaid program to Alicia Smith & Associates of Washington, D.C.
The cost of the contract to taxpayers — and whether the contract will include implementation of the restructuring effort or merely its planning — is not yet clear. The decision was made Monday, but was not immediately announced to the public.
“The Department is moving forward with the award and contract negotiations with Alicia Smith & Associates,” spokeswoman Betina McCracken said in an e-mail Thursday morning.
The state …

Featured, Government, Health, Investigation, Open Government »

[5 May 2011 | One Comment | ]

The state Human Services Department (HSD) has selected two finalists for a contract to overhaul the state’s $3.9 billion Medicaid health insurance program for people with disabilities and low income levels.
Either Alicia Smith & Associates of Washington, D.C. or Practical Government Solutions (PGS), a newly-registered Wisconsin company, is expected to sign a contract next week to restructure the state’s Medicaid system.
Alicia Smith & Associates appears to have had at least one distinct advantage over other contenders for the contract, state records show: three existing Medicaid-related contracts with HSD.
But Smith has …