Republican Governor’s 2013 Attack on Behavioral Health Continues to Disrupt Services to Our Communities

Las Cruces, NM – Today, Republican Governor Susana Martinez’s attack on behavioral health stuck another blow to behavioral health services in Las Cruces. According to the Las Cruces Sun-News, two homes for teens struggling with substance abuse and other behavioral health obstacles will close. 

“Republicans in the state have done little to hold their Republican leader accountable for the destruction of our state’s behavioral health care system,” said Democratic Party of New Mexico Chair Richard Ellenberg. “Just like the Governor’s veto of all higher education funding, her action on behavioral health in 2013 has had a lasting impact and will continue to hurt New Mexicans. This reckless action has left our neighbors with no place to go for the services needed to build healthy and resilient communities.”

In 2013, Governor Susana Martinez brought allegations of fraud against 15 New Mexico behavioral and mental health providers causing a serious deficit in behavioral and mental health services across the state. In 2016, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas cleared all 15 of those providers of wrongdoing, revealing the needless disruption in service caused by the Republican administration.

The closures in Las Cruces are just the most recent development in the Republican administration’s behavioral health shakeup that cost taxpayers $28.8 million dollars to chase what was ultimately found to be $1.16 million in billing irregularities. Governor Martinez brought in five out-of-state companies to provide services on $17 million government contracts. Since then, the majority of those providers have left the state taking jobs and leaving patients without access to health services in their communities.

The gross mismanagement on behalf of the Republican Governor’s office, killed nearly 2000 good-paying, professional jobs in the state, as reported by the behavioral health care providers, and forced many providers who had been part of the New Mexico community for decades to close their doors. 

Democrats continue to work to restore behavioral health services and ensure this reckless move could never happen again. Senate Bill 217 introduced by Democratic State Senator Mary Kay Papen would set standards for accusations of fraud to avoid false accusations disrupting services. Democratic State Representatives Sheryl Williams Stapleton, Debbie Armstrong, Liz Thomson, and Christine Trujillo introduced House Bill 306 which would ensure behavioral and mental health services are administered effectively by connecting New Mexicans with supportive housing, public assistance, medical assistance, behavioral health therapy and employment training. 

In addition, the Democratic Congressional delegation has worked tirelessly to hold the Governor’s office accountable for taking away New Mexicans care.