(Albuquerque, NM) – Senator Howie Morales of Silver City today called on Governor Susana Martinez to order the New Mexico Department of Aging and Long-Term Services to rescind its reckless decision to cancel critical elder-care programs for low-income and vulnerable seniors. The agency’s action, taken over the holiday season with little public scrutiny, violates federal and state law, and poses a serious threat to the health and well-being of more than 70,000 New Mexico seniors who rely on the cancelled services from more than 60 providers. Morales characterized the state’s action as arbitrary and drastic, and said he will push for public hearings and reversal of the termination in the coming legislative session.
“I am calling on the Governor to immediately order her department of Aging and Long Term Services to rescind the order that cancels the contract with NMAA. We should be protecting our seniors - many thousands of whom are living on fixed incomes in rural New Mexico, and in poor health - not destroying their basic means of having any quality of life,” said Morales.
“We have seen the same kind of reckless shredding of crucial services by this Governor and her cabinet secretaries before, when the state’s 15 behavioral health providers were falsely accused of fraud, and shut down four years ago. Vulnerable children and adults with mental illness, disabilities and substance abuse issues are still paying the price today for that decision. I will not be silent in the face of this latest, similiar destructive action that harms and disrespects seniors in New Mexico. I intend to fight this with all of the means available to me as a senator and as a member of the Finance Committee,” added Morales.
The state’s unexplained and sudden termination of contracts of providers to the Non-Metro Agency on Aging Area (NMAA) will hit 60 plus providers that delivery necessary services including congregate meals at senior centers, home meal delivery, respite care, transportation, homemaker services, and transit to medical appointments. It also eliminates funding for the End Hunger in NM initiative and funding for the Comprehensive Health and Assistance Services.
The federal Older Americans Act, a law that protects seniors, stipulates that state Area Agencies on Aging, which are federally funded, manage networks of contract services, including in-home care and meal preparation for low-income seniors.
The North Central New Mexico Economic Development District has operated the Non-Metro Area Agency on Aging for over 30 years, managing a network of critical services to more than 70,000 seniors.