Trump to double down on trickle-down

I keep seeing the word “elites” in articles about politics, and also hearing it from Donald Trump and his supporters. Who are these elites and why do we call them that? Because they have more money and power than we do? Does that make them smarter or better than any of us? Isn’t Donald Trump one of these elites? (You know, those elites who have the power to grab strange women by the pussy.)

Google defines elite as “a select part of a group that is superior to the rest in terms of ability or qualities.” The elite Wikipedia page says: “In political and sociological theory for a small group of powerful people that controls a disproportionate amount of wealth, privilege or political power in a society.”

The “elites” have made a mess of politics, so maybe we should stop calling them “elite.”

The greatest bogeymen of the moment are the shadowy, yet weirdly ubiquitous “elites.” (Or perhaps they come a close second to Muslim migrants.) If you listen to the political conversation on either side of the pond, it’s these elites who are the problem. The establishment in Washington and their media cronies, claims Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, have colluded to make America not that great anymore…

Donald Trump spins a pretty similar story. In a speech Tuesday, he hailed the outcome of Britain’s E.U. referendum. “Our friends in Britain recently voted to take back control of their economy, politics and borders,” he said… Trump projected the same narrative onto the United States at the event in Pennsylvania. He bemoaned “a wave of globalization” that gutted the American middle class, sent jobs overseas and brought immigrants, and then he let loose at the custodians of the status quo…

The “elites” have become a stand-in for the prevailing international system. And for right-wing populists, they provide the easiest punching bag…

But that still doesn’t get at the most searing irony of the Brexit movement. It’s championed by elites themselves, funded by billionaires, and intimately connected to influential media. The comparison to the Trump campaign, the latest career move of a business mogul and reality television star, seems pretty clear…

A campaign characterized by airy promises and a consistent dismissal of the concerns of experts and pundits now is struggling over what to do next. Some of its main figures have visions of a deregulated, privatized state, while the bulk of its voters want something altogether different — a return to a world with fewer foreigners, more jobs and the revitalization of their forgotten communities.

“The idealists want pure sovereignty; the hedge funds want deregulation; the voters voted for the welfare state,” writes Applebaum. None of this adds up… They now admit that they have no plan for Brexit…

I don’t know why Trump supporters think that closing our borders will help bring back middle-class jobs. The immigrants who take middle-class jobs are not from Mexico. And we’ve already seen that when jobs do come back, the pay and benefits are a lot less. I guess you could blame this on immigrants who take jobs for less money, or you could blame it on the corporations who pay employees less money for the same work.$46_trillion_in_wealth

In 2010 a dozen major companies, including GE, Verizon, Boeing, Wells Fargo, and Fed Ex paid US tax rates between -0.7% and -9.2%. Production, employment, profits, and taxes have all been outsourced…

“Leaders of Cigna, Humana, UnitedHealth, WellPoint and Aetna received nearly $200 million in compensation in 2009, according to a report, while the companies sought rate increases as high as 39%…

As health insurance companies admitted, they have been reaping windfall profits because people with health insurance plans still cannot afford to go to the doctors and have stopped going unless it is an absolute emergency… 75 percent of the medical bankruptcies filed are from people who have health insurance…

We don’t need to dismantle Obamacare. We need to get rid of the insurance companies — the middle-managers that take a cut of every one of our healthcare dollars, and for what? When did drug prices begin to significantly rise? After Prescription Benefit Managers (PBMs) came into existence.

Back to Trump supporters… Why would anyone think that getting rid of immigrants and bad trade policies would make a difference in how corporations are allowed to treat their employees and customers?

Why would anyone think that Trump could create better jobs? Because all of the jobs he’s created are so great? People selling steaks over the phone. Trump University. A couple of golf courses. How many employees work for Ivanka selling jewelry?

I’m getting to my point, I swear. Republican majorities are getting ready to take us back to the era of Reaganomics, not that we ever left it. Trickle-down economics, which guarantees that all of the profits and benefits go to the “elites” at UnitedHealth, GE, and FedEx. Because the middle-class employees at these corporations are not seeing any benefits trickle down.

Republicans in many states are now free to pursue their agendas on taxes, labor and social policies without Democrats standing in the way.

My comment:

“…states that were already under Republican control will have to step up their game when it comes to matters such as lowering tax rates, if they want to stay competitive with their neighbors.” This is called a race to the bottom. Both Republicans and Democrats in New Mexico have approved tax cuts for years. Maybe other Republican governors can ask Governor Martinez how that failed economic theory has worked out for her. The same failed economic theory that Trump will double down on for the whole country. Maybe we can ask a failed casino owner how that will work out.

The main difference between federal and state governing is that federal law says it’s illegal to discriminate, while state lawmakers are always looking for ways to get away with it. The only bright spot right now is that states are no longer getting away with discriminating against a plant.

Thinking of you, Victoria Martens

Lisa posted the story of Victoria Martens, a 10-year-old who was brutally murdered in Albuquerque:

In a statement, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) called the manner in which Victoria was killed “atrocious.”

“What happened to this little girl is unspeakable,” she said, according to media reports, “and justice should come down like a hammer on the monster who committed this murder.”

Governor Martinez (a former prosecutor and previous Democrat) has been making noise about bringing back the death penalty (for child killers and cop killers) even before Victoria Martens’ murder. I guess that’s the kind of talk Republicans want to hear.

Do you think if this state had the death penalty, Victoria Martens would still be alive?

If the death penalty really worked as a deterrent, I might be for it. But it doesn’t do anything except quench our thirst for revenge and cost a lot of money — just like making drugs illegal isn’t a deterrent to people using them and how the billions of dollars we’ve spent on the failed drug war has just been wasted.

Like in Victoria’s case, meth was involved here, too:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California couple wanted in connection with a woman’s killing and the kidnapping of her three children in the Los Angeles area were arrested Thursday in Colorado. 

Joshua Aaron Robertson, 27, and Brittany Humphrey, 22, were arrested without incident in Pueblo, about 40 miles south of Colorado Springs, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The couple was wanted in connection with the death of Humphrey’s half-sister, Kimberly Harvill, whose body was found with multiple gunshot wounds along a road in a remote area of Los Angeles County on Aug. 14.

Investigators said the couple kidnapped Harvill’s three young children, who were found safe Wednesday in a motel on the outskirts of Albuquerque. Humphrey is Harvill’s half-sister, and therefore the children’s aunt…

Harvill and her children had most recently lived in Fresno and were transitory, moving from motel to motel, sheriff’s Capt. Steve Katz said Wednesday, adding that they depended on panhandling to survive. Harvill was involved with methamphetamine, as were Humphrey and Robertson, Katz said.

The father of Harvill’s children, Kenneth Chad Watkins, killed himself by lying in front of a train last year, according to the Fresno County Coroner…

Three children, now without either parent. You have to wonder what these three kids will grow up to be.

See, Governor Martinez decapitated the mental health system in this state, falsely accusing a handful of providers of wrongdoings and refusing to pay them (in effect, closing them down). While these providers fought to clear their names, the governor gave contracts to out-of-state providers (paying back political promises) to replace them. I’ve read that a few of these out-of-state providers have already gone bankrupt, but I don’t know how many.

Which leaves patients without continuing mental health care, as well as having to deal with new providers, never an easy thing. What was Kenneth Chad Watkins being treated for before he gave up and committed suicide?

Statistics say that meth is even more popular than heroin in New Mexico (but not as popular as marijuana). I just read another study about the 17 states that have medical cannabis programs and how the amount of painkillers, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications have been substantially decreased in these states. But in New Mexico (as well as around the country), drug abuse and overdoses have increased.

I guess all the restrictions on my allergy medicine haven’t stopped the meth epidemic. The opioid war is obviously not stopping the heroin epidemic. Really, the DEA should be fired. Maybe Trump can take care of that.

The drug war isn’t the only reason that kids are being killed:

According to the Washington Post, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said McMorris killed the infant after discovering he wasn’t her biological father. A paternity test had confirmed that fact about three days before the baby was killed…


What would progress in the opioid war look like? For the government, progress is a decrease in the supply of opioids, along with the number of doctors prescribing (treating pain). And of course it means a decrease in the number of drug overdoses and deaths. In this Bloomberg article, New Mexico is highlighted as a state that’s making progress, but that’s not the reality.

Unfortunately, any “progress” in the opioid war is bad news for patients.

Kentucky, New Mexico, Vermont among states making progress

States were evaluated on six criteria, including the availability of treatment; mandatory education for doctors who prescribe opioids; and access to naloxone, which can reverse the effect of opioids. Michigan, Missouri and Nebraska didn’t meet a single one of the standards, according to a report from the council. Twenty-four other states were labeled as “failing” because they meet just one or two of the six objectives. While Kentucky, New Mexico, Tennessee and Vermont passed at least five, no state had a perfect score…

Does this look like progress to you?

In 2014, there were 540 deaths to drug overdose in New Mexico.

New Mexico has the 2nd highest drug overdose death rate in the U.S.

In 2014, 450 New Mexicans died by suicide (21.1 deaths per 100,000 residents)

The New Mexico suicide rate is more than 50% higher than the United States rate

However, New Mexico decided not to establish a “trigger” dosage threshold because of concern that such a policy would interfere with the patient-provider relationship. Instead, the state requires a mandatory continuing medical education course covering both prescription drug abuse prevention and the treatment of pain…

Opioid prescribers are mandated to sign up with the New Mexico Board of Pharmacy prescription monitoring program (PMP) and obtain a patient PMP report for the preceding 12 months when initially prescribing chronic opioid therapy (ie, ≥10 days) and every 6 months thereafter…

New Mexico is one of 16 states that successfully competed for the four-year grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The grant is from a new program called Prescription Drug Overdose: Prevention for States that helps states address the ongoing prescription drug overdose epidemic.

It appears that a bucket load of education and the PDMP were not enough to make a real difference in the number of overdoses in New Mexico. In fact, after a few years of seeing a small decrease in overdoses, the latest statistics show an increase.

Which leaves me to wonder what is being taught in these continuing education classes and seminars on chronic pain and addiction. Since this education is being funded by the government — and disseminated with the help of the medical industry — I assume everyone is learning to comply with the new CDC rules. And treating pain according to the CDC rules is not going to work for very many patients.

More New Mexicans died in 2014 of drug overdoses than in any other year on record…

Neurologist Joanna Katzman, president of the American Academy of Pain Management and head of the University of New Mexico’s Pain Consultation and Treatment Center, said continued education for medical professionals who prescribe opioids as well as better access to care for patients dealing with chronic pain must still be part of the equation.

“Chronic pain overlaps with addiction. Chronic pain overlaps with mental health,” she said, pointing to higher incidences of depression, anxiety and even suicide. “We need to really think about increasing treatment for chronic pain, increasing access to treatment.”

Dr. Katzman can talk a good game, making it seem like she could be on the side of pain patients. But I can’t imagine that too many pain patients would agree with her view of what constitutes treatment:

Click to access Michael-Landen-Prescribing-and-Drug-Overdose-Deaths-in-NM-May-7-2016.pdf

Council leading joint process to develop common language for the 7 licensing boards to use in developing their chronic pain management rules by 1/1/17

If you’re a pain patient in New Mexico, you should keep a watch out for these new rules. I assume they will mostly be in line with the new CDC rules, but I also assume that they will include a lot more restrictions on what doctors can prescribe.

I’m sorry, but I think things are about to get a lot worse, not only for patients in New Mexico, but in every state.

Happy November

In Houston where I used to live, there was a gas station on every corner and all along the freeways. The prices between stations would fluctuate by maybe a few cents per gallon. Here in Albuquerque, there aren’t as many gas stations and the prices can fluctuate by 10 cents or more. (I also saw a cash-only price yesterday of $1.92 per gallon.)

The government in Santa Fe doesn’t know what to do about the low price of oil, since this state’s revenue depends on it. Political pundits like to guess at how much revenue the state is losing every day… seems illogical to depend on the price of oil for something as important as revenue. (But what do I know.)

In other news, Governor Martinez was in Hawaii last week raising money for the GOP.

(Photo taken yesterday.)

Small Towns Face Rising Suicide Rates

The C.D.C. reported last year that Wyoming has the highest suicide rate in the nation, almost 30 deaths per 100,000 people in 2012, far above the national average of 12.6 per 100,000. Not far behind were Alaska, Montana, New Mexico and Utah, all states where isolation can be common. The village of Hooper Bay, Alaska, recently recorded four suicides in two weeks…

So, the CDC reports suicide statistics, but what does the agency do about it? Nothing, because they’re too busy with the opioid war.

Under comments:

n.h ny 3 hours ago
The new York mental health system is a shinning example to the rest of the world that ought to be forecully imposed on anyone. As someone with extensive experience in it, I can tell you that I am mentally ill because of the treatment forced on me because of new York state law. I was recently hospitalized because my parents told me I was going to travel to Belize to kill myself. When I told the officer it was a figure of speech, he pulled his weapon on me. When I told the fine psychiatrists at Westchester hospital, they laughed at me and repeated a liteny of diagnosis applicable for my retention. When I demanded to speak to a lawyer, I was laughed at. When I demanded a hearing, I was laughed at. If I could have put a gun to my head and pulled the trigger, I would have done it in a second. There are no words to describe the feeling of hopelessness that can be imposed on you when you are detained without rights. It is a status reserved for the worst terrorism offenders in Guantanamo. Yet, when it comes to the mentally ill, people who society has deemed as disabled and deserving help, the right to trial is waved. We are supposed to comply, or be beaten, tazered or drugged. Society doesn’t want to help the mentally ill. Society just wants the mentally ill to go away. When a mentally ill person like the young women mentioned in the article kills themself, it is not because they don’t have obamacare, it’s because they have retained enough dignity to die in peace.

Tizzielish Berkeley, CA 3 hours ago
Be forewarned, people. I wrote about my suicidal ideation and my local police just showed up, talking about private matters in my lobby in front of neighbors and building staff, humiliating me. I asked him to leave and he refused. He said he wanted to know if I was all right and I said “you can see I am all right and unless I have committed a crime, I don’t have to talk to you”. Then I got on my elevator and he got on — it is a secure building and no one is admitted to residential floors unless invited by a resident or a cop pursuing crime but he had just said I had committed no crime.

I said “I understand CA law says you can’t force me to get treatment or take meds” He said “That is correct.” So I said “Then why won’t you leave me alone, I don’t have to talk to you, right?” He kept on for some time, asking questions he could only have known because the NYTimes informed him.

Big Brother is watching so if you are lonely and experiencing suicidal ideation, don’t write about it here!

Lepton Grand Rapids MI 5 hours ago
In these communities often the pastor becomes the first point of contact for those struggling with mental illness. This is unfortunate because pastors generally don’t have training dealing with mental illness and depending on the denomination the advice they give can be pretty disastrous.

memosyne Maine 3 hours ago
One pastor in a small town where I practiced family medicine told people that if you are right with God you won’t be depressed. A women’s study group was organized around videos that suggested that depression could be cured by catching up on housework.

Your Daily Dose of Hypocrisy

Former sheriff wants in on medical marijuana

Darren White, whose law enforcement credentials include stints as cabinet secretary for the Department of Public Safety, Bernalillo County Sheriff and public safety director for the City of Albuquerque, is one of eight names serving as a board of director with Purlife, which filed an application with the state to open a medical marijuana nonprofit…

White’s previous public statements and actions against marijuana reform have been extensive—in 1999 he resigned as Department of Public Safety cabinet secretary after Republican Governor Gary Johnson announced that he was in favor of legalizing marijuana. As recently as 2007, when medical marijuana became legal in New Mexico, White was vehemently opposed to it…

White is an ally of Gov. Susana Martinez and frequently writes Twitter posts blasting anything critical of her administration. He appeared in a 2010 Martinez campaign ad as a sheriff.

Martinez ran that year opposed to the state’s medical marijuana program. Last year, she later voiced disapproval of decriminalizing marijuana possession. Earlier this year, Martinez vetoed a bill that would have allowed hemp cultivation for research purposes…

UNM Project ECHO bites the dust

Just six weeks after New Mexico announced that the overdose death rate had unexpectedly climbed, the state received a federal grant to target opioid overdoses with big data, better monitoring and more education. The New Mexico Department of Health said it received an $850,000-a-year grant for the next four years to enhance prescription drug overdose prevention. If renewed each year, the grant would provide $3.4 million for five more staffers working on overdose prevention initiatives.

“This funding allows the New Mexico Department of Health to develop new partnerships with the Board of Pharmacy and the Workers Compensation Administration. It will increase our capacity to reach communities with a high overdose burden,” Health Secretary Retta Ward said in a statement.

After two years of decline, the number of people in New Mexico who died from a drug overdose in 2014 hit 536, a jump of 20 percent over 2013. Officials say 265 of those deaths were the result of prescription opioids. The statewide rate of 26.4 overdose deaths per 100,000 population stands at one of the worst in the United States, along with West Virginia and Kentucky.

A major focus of the grant will be to better coordinate a Board of Pharmacy registry that is to be used by medical professionals who prescribe pain medication — an online tool called the Prescription Monitoring Program. The information is meant to help monitor patients who misuse pain prescriptions by shopping for several different providers around the state to write scripts.

But because there are seven medical occupations that can prescribe — from medical doctors to dentists — there are inconsistencies in how the database is used, as each reports to a different regulatory board where enforcement varies.

“Sometimes people get introduced to opioids in different ways. They’ll get injured and go see a medical provider and they’ll prescribe opioids. In cases, that person can then get addicted and overdose can result,” said Dr. Michael Landen, an epidemiologist with the state Health Department. “This whole pathway starts with that initial prescription and ensuring that prescription is appropriate is important.”

The grant will not only allow the state to capture more data from prescription writers, but also to deploy caseworkers into areas where they see “prescription hot spots” for drugs such as oxycodone, fentanyl, methadone, hydrocodone and buprenorphine.

“We’ll be able to use the data to work with individual doctor’s offices to improve prescribing in those offices,” Landen said.

Between 2001 and 2011, for instance, oxycodone sales in the state tripled, according to the Health Department.

Another emphasis for how the money is used will be to coordinate education efforts with the state Workers Compensation Administration, which has data on prescriptions for workers who were injured on the job — such as those with back ailments from heavy machine work or long-distance driving.

Landen said Washington state had success reducing overdoses in this population, which might come from a background where they haven’t seen addiction and don’t recognize it.

“We’d be able to analyze the data and make decisions on how to improve prescribing through their program,” he said.

Which means they will be seeking out any doctors prescribing over the maximum morphine-equivalent level and “educating” them about reducing dosages (and abandoning patients).

Some states, for instance, have looked at a “lock in” requirement, in which workers filling pain prescriptions have to use one medical provider and one pharmacy to better monitor usage.

Now only used in Medicaid, but soon coming to Medicare.

New Mexico is one of 16 states that successfully competed for the four-year grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The grant is from a new program called Prescription Drug Overdose: Prevention for States that helps states address the ongoing prescription drug overdose epidemic.

How did the state successfully complete the grant if the programs didn’t work?

The Health Department also will collaborate with the Human Services Department to increase public awareness of potential harm from prescription opioid medications.

Landen said the grant also will pay for an evaluator who can assess the state’s effort on overdose prevention and determine what approach is working.

For a state with a medical cannabis program that’s about 8 years old, it’s surprising that overdoses keep rising. Other states’ programs have reduced overdose deaths by about 25%, yet not here in New Mexico. Perhaps it’s not surprising after all, considering the sad condition of New Mexico’s medical cannabis program.  Without a program that provides adequate access for all, there are few public benefits to be had.

And New Mexico is one of the poorest states in the country, so poverty plays a big role in overdose deaths and suicides.

Targeting opioids doesn’t seem like a very thorough plan. It leaves out so many drugs that contribute to overdoses, like alcohol, anti-anxiety drugs, muscle relaxers, and anti-depressants. And it leaves out one of the most important issues of all:  suicide.  (Way to honor National Suicide Day, Department of Health.) And what’s the deal with the Department of Health working with the Worker’s Compensation Administration? Easy to pick on the disabled, right?

Ironically, in January of this year, the University of New Mexico was announcing it might have found the “holy grail” of stopping opiate abuse (mostly centered around education):

New Mexico’s Project ECHO is all about reducing opioid usage in chronic pain patients, and last I heard, is working with the Veteran’s Administration. UNM calls it a program for pain patients — I call it a program to treat addiction. The fact that the program doesn’t work just confirms my opinion that addiction in the chronic pain population is not the huge problem it’s made out to be. If you can’t find and don’t treat enough chronic pain patients that suffer from drug addiction, the program won’t work.

Ironic that the federal government is spending so much more money on programs that aren’t working, but I would say that most of the funding is really for the PDMPs, the blacklist for pain patients. And PDMPs are popular with the DEA, insurance industry, government agencies, and now the medical industry.

It’s also ironic that in October, 2013, Dr. Katzman authored a study about the epidemic of chronic pain. From someone who’s recognized the problem, all the way to today with Project ECHO, this doctor has taken a mighty long fall in a really short time. Here are my posts about the director of the program, Dr. Katzman:

Corporate taxes and teen curfews

Friday, August 21, 2015

It was 2013 when the legislative Dems caved to Gov. Martinez and approved a controversial corporate income tax. The Dems went on to lose the House in ’14 to the R’s for the first time in 60 years. In a little noticed section of the latest state revenue report we learn just how far off Santa Fe was back then in estimating the cost of that corporate cut:

House Bill 641 made several changes to the corporate income tax code. The fiscal impact report initially estimated that the changes would result in a revenue loss of $7.2 million in FY14. However, actual revenue in that fiscal year missed its forecast by more than the estimated $7.2 million cost. In FY14, net corporate income tax revenue was subject to a six- month forecast error of $82.2 million (41.8 percent), and an 18-month error of $143.4 million (72.2 percent).

That’s a lot of revenue out the door, sports fans…

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The sensational crimes this summer involving teens has prompted Gov. Martinez to announce that she will ask the Legislature in January to give cities the power to implement teen curfews, even though a previous ABQ curfew in the 90’s was found unconstitutional…

ABQ Dem State Rep. Javier Martinez seems ready to lead the opposition to a teen curfew. He writes:

…A curfew is unenforceable. APD is a mess, without enough officers and a litany of questions regarding its internal procedures. A curfew is also ineffective and simply criminalizes young people. Young people are the solution, not the problem.

Some New Mexico defendants denied public defenders

If you’re arrested in New Mexico, you’re supposed to hear something like this: “If you cannot afford an attorney, one will provided for you.” It’s a constitutional right. But what happens if the state can’t afford your legal counsel, either?

According to the Law Offices of the Public Defender, this is what could happen: Starting this week and through June 30, defendants out of custody and eligible for a contract public defender won’t get one…

The legislature approved a $1.3 million Special Appropriation to close the gap, but “Unfortunately, on April 9, 2015, Governor Martinez line-item vetoed that appropriation,” Alvarado said…

Reining in payday loans falls by wayside in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Attempts to rein in payday loans in New Mexico fell by the wayside during the recent 60-day legislative session. While the small loans industry says it helps people in need, consumer advocates say a fix is sorely needed.

According to a 2014 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, 14 states and the District of Columbia either ban payday loans or cap interest rates at 36 percent. Nine states have some restrictions, while 27 allow single-repayment loans with rates 391 percent or higher.

In my opinion, a 36 percent interest rate should be considered usury.  And since it’s the Big Banks and Wall Street who own these payday loan stores, it appears they are still in charge.

Predatory lending practices have been a target of consumer advocates for decades in New Mexico, one of the poorest states in the country. Bills that would have capped interest rates at 36 percent went nowhere. Industry members say businesses would be forced to shut down at that rate.

Google:  Usury, noun, the illegal action or practice of lending money at unreasonably high rates of interest.

Wikipedia:  A loan shark is a person or body who offers loans at extremely high interest rates.

Second provider to leave after talks with state fail

The state’s negotiations to prevent an Arizona mental health and substance abuse treatment provider from leaving New Mexico have fallen flat, casting into uncertainty the services for nearly 3,800 clients in seven counties…

La Frontera will be the second replacement provider to pull out of New Mexico after losing millions of dollars since setting up shop in the state. Turquoise Health and Wellness, which served the eastern portion of the state, left April 1…

La Frontera’s looming departure deals yet another blow to Gov. Susana Martinez’s abrupt overhaul of the behavioral health system. To date, two of the New Mexico providers the administration dismissed over suspected fraud through Medicaid overbilling have been cleared by the Attorney General’s Office, and no criminal charges have been filed against any of the displaced providers, most of which have closed down. The Counseling Center in Alamogordo, one of the communities where La Frontera will discontinue services, was cleared of fraud by the attorney general, but shut down after the state cut off its Medicaid funds…

The speedy replacement of the ousted providers with the Arizona companies, which the state paid about $24 million to establish operations here…

Sen. Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, one of the most vocal critics of the behavioral health shake-up, said in February she was dumbfounded that La Frontera could be struggling so mightily after the millions of dollars the state had paid to help the organization establish its operation here, the 12 percent increase in rates it was awarded over the fees its predecessors received for services, and the Human Services Department’s assertion that the number of people receiving Medicaid behavioral health services has grown dramatically since the shake-up…