July 06, 2016

Lujan Visits Easter Seals to Discuss Efforts to Rebuild New Mexico's Behavioral Health System

Santa Fe, NM – Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District visited Easter Seals El Mirador recently to discuss the state of New Mexico’s behavioral health system following the suspension of payments by the State to 15 behavioral health providers that have since been exonerated of the charges against them.  Three years removed from the unwarranted suspension of payments that left patients facing disruptions in the care they need, caused organizations to shut down, and resulted in the loss of jobs, Luján focused on the need to rebuild New Mexico’s behavioral health system while ensuring steps are taken to prevent such a crisis from happening again.
“Patients are continuing to pay the price because of this manufactured crisis, and while we cannot undo all the damage that has been done, we can take steps to ensure that this does not happen again by protecting continuity of care for those who need it and due process for providers,” Congressman Luján said.  “Addressing this problem will also require efforts to rebuild our behavioral health system so that it meets the needs of our communities.  My legislative package will provide resources to help states invest in their behavioral health system while addressing the significant shortage of mental health professionals that too many communities face.”
“We applaud the efforts of our Congressional Delegation and particularly Congressman Lujan in their efforts to re-build our behavioral health system to serve our most vulnerable behavioral/mental health individuals, who are in desperate need of services,” said Mark Johnson, CEO of Easter Seals El Mirador.  “The additional steps taken by Congressman Luján in making sure there are disclosure and due process protections in place for providers, is critical in helping build back our behavioral health system and attracting comprehensive New Mexico service providers in meeting the needs of our communities.”
Luján has introduced legislation along with Democratic members of the New Mexico delegation to prevent unnecessary payment suspension, guarantee due process and protect continuity of care.  He has also introduced a legislative package to rebuild New Mexico’s behavioral health system by providing incentives for states to prioritize improvements and investments in their behavioral health system through matching federal funds.  It also supports efforts to fill in the gaps in the behavioral health care workforce by developing and sustaining paraprofessional training and education programs and providing tuition support for peer specialists.

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