Easter Seals El Mirador has been cleared of fraud charges following an investigation, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King announced yesterday.
According to a report in the Las Cruces Sun-News, King’s office determined that the mental health care provider was only guilty of improper billing. Specifically, AG King’s investigation found that the organization had overbilled Medicaid by $34,126.19. Easter Seals, along with 14 other mental health care providers in the state, had been accused by the state Human Services Department (HSD) of “credible allegations of fraud.”
A statement released by AG King’s office noted that it is now up to the HSD to determine what actions are necessary to deal with the improper billing. Investigations into the other 14 organizations are ongoing.
As reported by Las Cruces Sun-News, HSD spokesman Matt Kennicott believes that the improper billing is “much higher” than the $34,000 identified by the AG’s office. He also said that just because no evidence of fraud was found doesn’t mean that Easter Seals did not “significantly overbill Medicaid.”
Patsy Romero, chief operations officer at Easter Seals said they will be appealing each one of the findings in the AG’s report and if they do find that any of those claims were substantiated, they would “absolutely” repay that money to the state. Romero also noted that the AG”s report identified less than 1 percent of total dollars billed by their agency. “These billing errors would have been quickly and easily addressed in a meeting with HSD,” she said. “The dismantling of the fragile behavioral health system in New Mexico was not needed.”
In a separate statement released by the organization, CEO Mark Johnson said he was “delighted, but not surprised” that Easter Seals was cleared of fraud.
“We are anxious to have full disclosure [from the AG's office] so that we can intelligently defend ourselves,” Johnson said.
You can read the full story in Las Cruces Sun-News.