‘Medicaid Forward’ bill in governor’s hands after winning Senate approval


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.”

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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.

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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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As reported by Albuquerque Journal

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