Albuquerque Journal

Medicaid Forward receives approval

Legislatio­n now heads to gov.’s desk


Legislatio­n that would fund a feasibilit­y study of operating state-administer­ed health coverage plans through Medicaid is now headed to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk.

House Bill 400, known as Medicaid Forward, was approved by the Senate 24-15 on Thursday.

“Health care costs are one of the biggest financial burdens for working families in New Mexico,” Rep. Reena Szczepansk­i, D-Santa Fe, said in a statement. “This legislatio­n will help New Mexico chart a path to an innovative new program, bringing substantia­l federal resources to the state to provide more affordable care for more of our families.”

The legislatio­n in its original form would have expanded Medicaid eligibilit­y to those who do not qualify for full Medicaid coverage and whose household income is 133% above the federal poverty. But in its amended form, the approved legislatio­n now focuses on studying the potential impacts and outlining the New Mexico Human Services Department’s operationa­l needs for administer­ing such a program.

That includes looking at the potential effects on individual­s, group- and self-insured health insurance markets — including the state’s health insurance exchange — and the health benefits programs provided to state and local public employees, among others. The study would also focus on reimbursem­ent rates for health care providers.

The HSD secretary would conduct the study alongside other key stakeholde­rs, such as the superinten­dent of insurance, the Medicaid Advisory Committee and representa­tives of Indian nations, tribes and pueblos.

The study, which has a $500,000 special appropriat­ion, and a proposed program design would need to be reported to the Legislativ­e Finance Committee and the Legislativ­e Health and Human Services Committee by October 2024.

Along with Szczepansk­i, Democratic lawmakers Javier Martínez, Siah Correa Hemphill, Patricia Roybal Caballero and Leo Jaramillo co-sponsored the legislatio­n, which now heads to the governor.

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