Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dueling Behavioral Health Radio Ads

UPDATED: 5 p.m. This post now includes more information on some of the organizations behind "New Mexicans Fighting For Behavioral Health."

Here's the ad --  mentioned today in my "staff and wire reports" story (I was the "staff" part of that equation -- produced by a group criticizing the Martinez administrations shake-up of the behavioral health system.

The group is called "New Mexicans Fighting For Behavioral Health." Sen. Bill O'Neill described them as "a group of social workers and service providers."

And no, like the group New Mexico Competes, which produced radio spots praising Martinez for her behavioral health actions --  New Mexicans Fighting For Behavioral Health does not have to disclose its donors. Lobbyist Linda Siegle, said the group is acting through a non-profit called Resource for Change Policy Works that she started several years ago with her wife Liz Stefanics.

Siegle said several individuals, including some of the New Mexico behavioral health providers who were defunded after an outside audit, and groups are part of the coalition. The groups include Health Action New Mexico, New Mexico Voices for Children, the National Association of Social Workers, the New Mexico Psychological Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Of those, the Social Workers group contributed money for the ads.

Siegle said the group has raised about $3,500.

Here's the script:

The shutdown of the majority of New Mexico's  Behavioral Health providers and transfer of their management to Arizona firms, was done without due process, and has severely reduced service delivery to many of our citizens who are suffering from mental illness, alcoholism and substance abuse. 

It has been costly in many other ways: With dozens of jobs impacted.... Reduction of services to families and children, especially in our rural areas.... And gifted professionals now leaving the state. 

The Governor has placed New Mexico's vulnerable citizens in the hands of outsiders whose CEOs are being paid up to $300/hour during the transition, and who are not familiar with our traditions or our culture.

This disaster followed an audit alleging fraud, although the State Auditor says he has seen no "credible allegations of fraud". What's next?  Transfer of the New Mexico Department of Health to Texas?  

The Governor and Legislature must restore funding to New Mexico providers and reverse the takeover, until they get their day in court.  

On September 16, a federal agency is coming to Albuquerque to investigate.  Mark your calendar, and demand that New Mexicans continue to handle New Mexico's challenges!

Siegle said the Sept. 16 refers to a date the group hope that representatives of the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services come to the state to discuss the behavioral-health shakeup. However, she said, the date for that visit is not yet confirmed.

The state Human Services Department has denied any major disruption of services to mental health clients.

Below is the ad for Compete New Mexico.

UPDATE: 9-16-13 2 p.m. An earlier version of this post incorrectly said several organizations had contributed to the New Mexicans Fighting For Behavioral Health ad. This has been corrected in the text.