The NM HSD "Scandal" Scandal…the State Overplays its Hand Again
Sylvia Ulloa
NM In Depth
Thursday 7/27

Of all the news media fatuities I’ve witnessed none can quite compare with NBC News taking out a big ad in the NY Times to brag about their reporter Chris Wallace’s big scoop, beating all his competitors by almost a minute in announcing that George H W Bush was going to be Ronald Reagan’s Vice President.  

But wait a minute, this was Ronald Reagan, and even then, by the time he got to the GOP Convention mic to confirm Wallace’s scoop, he could have forgotten Bush, or changed his mind, “cause it turned out the Reagans weren’t all that cuddly with the Bushes.

But here’s my point: only the President names the Vice President, not the media, not the polls, which is why it always amused me that New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez’ name was always on media short lists for Republican Veep nominee.  “As America’s first and only Latina Governor…” was always listed as her chief credential.  Might be her only one.  

Not that it matters.  Martinez isn’t going to be Vice President, and in fact, it might be said that her past record as Governor has pretty much destroyed her future.

Of all the debits on the Martinez record, none can compare with what I like to call “
The Human Services Department scandal scandal.”  The real scandal was the way HSD and the Governor herself tried to sell their fake one.

How fake?  Here’s a clue – the latest news of the story:  The State Human Services Department settled its case against Southwest Counseling Center by knocking down its claim of $2.8 million in allegedly overbilled services to $484.87.  The folks at SWCC might have celebrated their victory more joyously had the Center not been closed more than 3 years ago when the state stopped payment on all its Medicaid billings.

15 New Mexico behavioral health service providers were falsely accused of fraud.  All 15 were eventually cleared of all charges of wrongdoing by the State Attorney General.  But almost all of them are out of business today.  And 4 out of 5 of the Arizona-based service providers who replaced them have already left or announced that they will leave the state, and their needy customers, behind.

Susana Martinez campaigned as a unique combination of tough and nice.  She had been, she said over and over, “a tough prosecutor in Dona Ana County, and you could see how nice she was because she cared so much  for her intellectually handicapped sister.  At every ceremonial or political event, the Governor brought Lettie.  And showed how much, how constantly, she cared for her.

In her bogus, shockingly unethical war against the 15 behavioral health service providers, the Governor and her Human Services Department not only destroyed businesses, they disrupted the care of people with mental illness, substance abuse problems, or with physical or intellectual handicaps like her sister’s.   

Among the results of that disruption in care to that highly vulnerable population, says Roque Garcia, the CEO of the shutdown Southwest Counseling Center,  “People were put in jail, people were put in the hospital, there were suicides. I think it was a criminal action from HSD.”



Sylvia Ulloa has recently joined the reporting team at

Sylvia most recently was managing editor of the Las Cruces Sun-News in the agricultural Mesilla Valley in southern New Mexico.  She started her journalism career as a copy editor in the agricultural Salinas Valley in California and later was a writer and editor at the San Jose (California) Mercury News and El Paso Times. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from San Jose State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, respectively.



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