New Mexico – After alarming reports of Governor Susana Martinez’s administration ending a key contract with a senior service provider, Non-Metro Area Agency on Aging, the Democratic Party of New Mexico pointed to a disturbing pattern from Republicans in the state.
“Governor Martinez and Republicans in the state have an egregious pattern of taking away services New Mexicans need,” said Richard Ellenberg, Chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico. “Since her time in office Governor Martinez has disrupted behavioral health and substance abuse programs for thousands of New Mexicans, fraudulently changed food assistance applications, and now they’re targeting ‘Meals on Wheels’ among many other services for seniors.”
According to KRQE News 13, the Non-Metro Area Agency on Aging manages services of “65 different senior service programs, spanning across every single New Mexico county, except for Bernalillo” including “‘Meals on Wheels,’ group meals at senior centers, respite care, homemaker services and senior transportation services.”
Chair Ellenberg went on to point out that Republicans in Congress targeted the “Meals on Wheels” program during Congressional budget negotiations, “It’s obvious that Republicans don’t know what’s important–the proposed federal budget included an attack on seniors, and Steve Pearce voted to take away services when he voted for the GOP tax bill. We need leaders who understand the needs of our state, not push an extreme Republican agenda that has already failed our New Mexico.”
In 2013, Governor Susana Martinez brought allegations of fraud against 15 New Mexico behavioral and mental health providers causing a serious deficit in behavioral and mental health services across the state. In 2016, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas cleared all 15 of those providers of wrongdoing, revealing the needless disruption in service caused by the Republican administration.
Ultimately this egregious abuse of power cost taxpayers $28.8 million dollars to chase what was ultimately found to be $1.16 million in billing irregularities. Governor Martinez brought in five out-of-state companies to provide services on $17 million government contracts. Since then, the majority of those providers have left the state taking jobs and leaving patients without access to health services in their communities.
In addition, the gross mismanagement on behalf of the Republican Governor’s office, killed nearly 2000 good-paying, professional jobs in the state, as reported by the behavioral health care providers, and forced many providers who had been part of the New Mexico community for decades to close their doors.
In April of 2016, employees at the Human Services Department came forward to reveal that they were pressured to change income claims on SNAP applications that would have otherwise qualified for expedited processing. As a result, New Mexico families in dire need of food did not receive benefits in a timely manner as required.