New Mexico braces for exit from Medicaid insurance and other news

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

MORGAN LEE, Associated Press

SANTA FE, New Mexico (AP) — New Mexico is bracing for a rapid exodus of up to 100,000 people from subsidized Medicaid health care next year as the federal government phases out special spending in the pandemic era and program eligibility, chief official The state’s health care told MPs on Wednesday.

State health and welfare officials say the federal government will likely end the COVID-19 public health emergency in January, but not necessarily, reducing Medicaid enrollment and leaving an annual deficit of $167 million in state general fund finance.

A legislative commission met on Wednesday to weigh the implications. The Biden administration plans to notify states 60 days before a decision is made.

At the time, Health and Human Services Secretary David Scraze said between 85,000 and 100,000 residents could no longer qualify for Medicaid due to increased income as they return to work. He said cutting additional food assistance could also see people go back to work and get off Medicaid.

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“We knew this would happen someday, and now it’s becoming part of our budget,” Scraze said.

National insurance regulators are gearing up to help residents switch to insurance policies on the state health insurance exchange with a first monthly payment waiver plan, according to a briefing from the Legislative Assembly’s Accounts and Budget Department.

The state has a new stream of tax revenue designed to support health insurance offerings for low- and middle-income individuals and small business employees.

This is due to a new tax of 2.75% on health insurance premiums, advance payments made on behalf of an individual or family to keep insurance active.

New Mexico residents have been flocking to Medicaid insurance — for people living in poverty or on the doorstep — during the COVID-19 pandemic as the federal government temporarily increased reimbursements for healthcare providers and expanded patient rights.

New Mexico officials say the state has the highest coverage rate in the nation for Medicaid and its accompanying children’s health insurance program, with approximately 970,000 patients out of the state’s 2.1 million residents as of June 2022.

New Mexico is among states across the country that have made it easier for new moms to get Medicaid up to a year after giving birth, when depression and other health problems can develop.

Scraze said the state hopes to ensure continued Medicaid enrollment for qualified children soon to avoid occasional enrollment failures that could interfere with regular health checks and immunizations. He said that New Mexico would be the second state to adopt the practice.

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

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