August 16, 2018

Luján Calls for Martinez Administration to Provide Continuity of Behavior Health Services for New Mexicans

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Following the announcement that Tri-County Community Services will close at the end of this month, Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) wrote to Governor Susana Martinez and New Mexico’s Departments of Health, Human Services, and Children, Youth, and Families, calling on them to take swift action to provide northern New Mexicans with continuity of behavioral health services.
 
“After speaking with Secretaries Earnest and Gallagher, as well as the Governor’s Chief of Staff, I am encouraged that all parties involved will be able to work together to solve this problem. A plan is needed to ensure that the most individuals maintain access to their behavioral health provider,” said Luján. 
 
Tri-County Community Services announced that they will close their doors on August 31, 2018. Unless the Martinez administration acts to provide a high-quality solution, on September 1, 2018, patients who rely on Tri-County for behavioral health services will be left with nowhere to turn. Tri-County serves as one of northern New Mexico’s largest behavioral health providers, operating in three locations and serving over 50,000 New Mexicans in Taos, Colfax, and Union counties.
 
Luján also reminded state officials that 1,300 New Mexicans currently rely on Tri-County Community Services and of the importance of reliable, consistent mental health care. He urged action and offered support to ensure that their Departments and the state are prepared to protect the northern New Mexicans who will be losing a primary source of behavioral health services.
 
The full text of the letters can be read here and below.
 
Governor Susana Martinez
New Mexico Office of the Governor
490 Old Santa Fe Trail
Room 400
Santa Fe, NM 87501
 
Dear Governor Martinez: 
 
New Mexicans in small towns across our state deserve access to affordable, high-quality behavioral health services. As you know, Tri-County Community Services will close its doors on August 31, 2018. On September 1, 2018, patients who rely on Tri-County for behavioral health services will be left with nowhere to turn. 
 
It is extremely challenging to build a strong system of care in our largely rural, underserved state, where health care providers become vital to the fabric of a community. Tri-County provides mental health counseling, substance use disorder treatment- including medication assisted treatment, and many other integral services. For patients who rely on mental health or substance use disorder treatment, few things are as important as the ability to regularly see a trusted provider focused on high-quality care. If the services provided by Tri-County are not replaced by September 1, over 50,000 New Mexicans in Taos, Colfax, and Union counties will lose access to behavioral health services. This is unacceptable. The state of New Mexico must act immediately to ensure these communities do not experience any lapse in services.
 
As we saw in 2013, when the New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) abruptly suspended Medicaid payments to 15 behavioral health providers, disrupting care to some of our state’s most vulnerable residents will result in disastrous consequences statewide. 
 
Governor Martinez, what are you and your administration doing to provide continuity of behavioral health care to the 1,300 vulnerable Northern New Mexicans who currently rely on Tri-County Community Services?
 
Due to the urgency of this situation, please do respond by August 21, 2018.
 
Sincerely,
 
Ben Ray Luján
Member of Congress
 
View a pdf version of this letter here.
 
 
Secretary Lynn Gallagher
New Mexico Department of Health
Office of the Secretary
1190 South St. Francis Dr. 
Suite N 4100
Santa Fe, NM 87505
 
Dear Secretary Gallagher: 
 
New Mexicans in small towns across our state deserve access to affordable, high-quality behavioral health services. As you know, Tri-County Community Services is closing its doors on August 31, 2018. On September 1, 2018, patients who rely on Tri-County for behavioral health services will be left with nowhere to turn. 
 
It takes decades to build a strong system of care in our largely rural, underserved state, where health care providers become vital to the fabric of a community. Tri-County provides high-quality mental health counseling, substance use disorder treatment–including medication assisted treatment, and many additional integral services. For patients who rely on mental health or substance use disorder treatment, few things are as important as the ability to regularly see a trusted provider focused on high-quality care. If the services provided by Tri-County are not replaced by September 1, over 50,000 New Mexicans in Taos, Colfax, and Union counties will lose access to behavioral health services. This is unacceptable. The state of New Mexico must act immediately to ensure these communities do not experience any lapse in services.
 
As we saw in 2013 when the New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) abruptly suspended Medicaid payments to 15 behavioral health providers, disrupting care to some of our state’s most vulnerable residents will result in disastrous consequences statewide. During the 2013 behavioral health shakeup, I saw the negative effects that the state’s decision had on New Mexico’s most vulnerable residents, many of whom then relied on the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute (NMBHI) for care. During this time, the facility proved incapable of meeting the needs of the state. Unfortunately, the need for inpatient services has only grown since 2013. I am concerned that the closure of Tri-County will result in similar circumstance for NMBHI, similar to what we saw in 2013. 
 
Secretary Gallagher, what are you and your department doing to work with the state to advocate for the continuity of behavioral health care to the 1,300 vulnerable Northern New Mexicans, who currently rely on Tri-County Community Services? 
 
Is NMBHI preparing to provide emergency services to this region of the state because of the closure? 
 
Further, is the Department of Health willing to expedite Medicaid provider licensing in order to ensure more patients can continue to receive care from their current behavioral health providers?
 
Due to the urgency of this situation, please do respond by August 21, 2018.
 
Sincerely,
 
Ben Ray Luján
Member of Congress
 
View a pdf version of this letter here.
 
 
Secretary Brent Earnest
New Mexico Human Services Department 
Office of the Secretary
P.O. Box 2348
Santa Fe, NM 87504
 
Dear Secretary Earnest: 
 
New Mexicans in small towns across our state deserve access to affordable, high-quality behavioral health services. As you know, Tri-County Community Services will close its doors on August 31, 2018. On September 1, 2018, patients who rely on Tri-County for behavioral health services will be left with nowhere to turn. 
 
It is extremely challenging to build a strong system of care in our largely rural, underserved state, where health care providers become vital to the fabric of a community. Tri-County provides mental health counseling, substance use disorder treatment- including medication assisted treatment, and many other integral services. For patients who rely on mental health or substance use disorder treatment, few things are as important as the ability to regularly see a trusted provider focused on high-quality care. If the services provided by Tri-County are not replaced by September 1, over 50,000 New Mexicans in Taos, Colfax, and Union counties will lose access to behavioral health services. This is unacceptable. The state of New Mexico must act immediately to ensure these communities do not experience any lapse in services.
 
As we saw in 2013, when the New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) abruptly suspended Medicaid payments to 15 behavioral health providers, disrupting care to some of our state’s most vulnerable residents will result in disastrous consequences statewide. 
 
Secretary Earnest, what are you and your administration doing to provide continuity of behavioral health care to the 1,300 vulnerable Northern New Mexicans who currently rely on Tri-County Community Services? 
 
Is HSD preparing to provide high-quality emergency services to this region of the state because of the closure? 
 
Is HSD willing to explore innovative Medicaid billing practices in order to ensure more patients can continue to receive care from their current behavioral health providers?
 
Due to the urgency of this situation, please do respond by August 21, 2018. 
 
Sincerely,
 
Ben Ray Luján
Member of Congress
 
View a pdf version of this letter here.
 
 
Secretary Monique Jacobson
New Mexico Children, Youth, & Families Department
Office of the Secretary
P.O. Drawer 5160
Santa Fe, NM 87502
 
Dear Secretary Jacobson: 
 
New Mexicans in small towns across our state deserve access to affordable, high-quality behavioral health services. As you know, Tri-County Community Services will close its doors on August 31, 2018. On September 1, 2018, patients who rely on Tri-County for behavioral health services will be left with nowhere to turn. 
 
It is extremely challenging to build a strong system of care in our largely rural, underserved state, where health care providers become vital to the fabric of a community. Tri-County provides mental health counseling, substance use disorder treatment–including medication assisted treatment, and many other integral services. For patients who rely on mental health or substance use disorder treatment, few things are as important as the ability to regularly see a trusted provider focused on high-quality care. If the services provided by Tri-County are not replaced by September 1, over 50,000 New Mexicans in Taos, Colfax, and Union counties will lose access to behavioral health services. This is unacceptable. The state of New Mexico must act immediately to ensure these communities do not experience any lapse in services. 
 
As we saw in 2013, when the New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) abruptly suspended Medicaid payments to 15 behavioral health providers, disrupting care to some of our state’s most vulnerable residents will result in disastrous consequences statewide. During the 2013 behavioral health shakeup, I saw the negative effects that the state’s decision had on New Mexico’s most vulnerable families. Many of these families were already working with the Children Youth and Families Department (CYFD) prior to the disruption in behavioral health services, and many more families encountered CYFD as a result of this disruption. 
 
During the 2013 behavioral health shakeup, I heard stories about children and parents’ behavioral health services being interrupted overnight. When treatment options were reduced, more of New Mexico’s kids ended up in state custody. I am concerned that the closure of Tri-County could result in similar consequences for Northern New Mexico’s families. 
 
Secretary Jacobson, what are you and your department doing to advocate for the continuity of behavioral health care to the 1,300 vulnerable Northern New Mexicans who currently rely on Tri-County Community Services? Is CYFD preparing to provide emergency services to this region of the state because of the closure?
 
Due to the urgency of this situation, please do respond by August 21, 2018. 
 
Sincerely,
 
Ben Ray Luján
Member of Congress

View a pdf version of this letter here.
 DOH TriCounty Ltr (08/16/1809:59 PMET )
 HSD TriCounty Ltr (08/16/1809:59 PMET )
 CYFD TriCounty Ltr (08/16/1809:59 PMET )
 TriCounty Letters (08/16/1809:59 PMET )
 Office of Gov Letter (08/16/1809:58 PMET )