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State reaches agreement for senior services reimbursements

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The state’s department for aging has reversed its earlier decision and will allow an intermediary agency to continue processing reimbursements to senior services providers, at least until the end of June.

The New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department announced Tuesday afternoon that they had reached an agreement with the North Central New Mexico Economic Development District, which manages the Non-Metro Area Agency on Aging, to allow the NMAAA to continue overseeing senior services and processing reimbursement payments through the end of the fiscal year.

With the agreement, the economic development district and NMAAA have agreed to dismiss a lawsuit against the state department, according to a news release.

The NMAAA is one of four agencies to serve as intermediaries between state and senior services providers throughout the state. Two handle tribal entities, one works with providers in Bernalillo County, and the NMMAAA is the intermediary for other providers in the state, including the Chaves County JOY Centers.

In December, the state department, led by Acting Secretary Kyky Knowles, decided to terminate the contract effective Feb. 1, at least on a temporary basis, because of more than $337,000 in bookkeeping irregularities found by an audit and complaints by some providers, including the JOY Centers, that their reimbursements were delayed by up to a month, causing some groups to experience difficulties in meeting payroll.

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During a November Legislative Finance Committee meeting, state legislators talked to Knowles and others with the Aging Department about the concerns they had about NMAAA and about the complaints concerning reimbursement delays they had received from senior services providers.

Tim Armer, the executive director of NCNMEDD, had said in a September interview that delayed payments to providers were due primarily to the state taking longer to review and process the payment requests.

According to the Tuesday announcement, the state will monitor NMAAA operations and the disbursements of federal and state funds, and both will work together to resolve financial reporting concerns.

The Aging Department also will continue to offer technical assistance for reimbursement requests and payments.

Town halls coordinated by both agencies with service providers and community members will occur in February and March to provide information and gather input and feedback.

“It will continue to be our priority to support those who care for our seniors,” said Knowles. “Community-based services are vital to the health, safety and welfare of the some of the state’s most vulnerable residents. We have to make sure that providers are receiving the support they need and ensure that taxpayer dollars are appropriately spent.”

“We are very gratified to be able to come to this agreement,” said Armer. “We look forward to working with ALTSD collaboratively and in close communication for the betterment of serving seniors throughout the state of New Mexico.”