by Mandisa Routheni
An innovative plan to open up Medicaid so that anyone could buy into it — even if they don’t qualify for Medicaid currently — is gaining momentum in our state and country. Medicaid buy-in bills have been introduced in Congress as the idea is being explored in New Mexico, Colorado, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Colorado, and Oklahoma. But New Mexico has made more progress than anywhere in the country.
People from all walks of life have come together in the NM Together for Healthcare campaign to create our own healthcare solution.
Just last night, after hearing from local family health leaders in the campaign, the City of Sunland Park City Council unanimously passed a resolution in favor of exploring a Medicaid buy-in plan in New Mexico. In June, community members from the campaign testified before the McKinley County Commission, which unanimously passing a similar resolution.
Olga Hernandez, a promotora and long-time Sunland Park resident said, “The passing of this resolution sends a clear message to legislators that Sunland Park is in support of a Medicaid buy-in plan. It is a priority and the time is now for healthcare access for all New Mexicans.”
Family leaders are continuing to work in Bernalillo and Doña Ana counties to garner more support through resolutions and holding convenings throughout New Mexico.
Late July, on the 53rd anniversary of Medicaid, families affected by lack of affordable healthcare and organizations from across the state and country met in Albuquerque to discuss a Medicaid buy-in plan that would provide access to quality, affordable healthcare for the uninsured and a feasible alternative for those who have insurance, but cannot afford the out-of-pocket costs.
Medicaid already covers 40 percent of New Mexicans and has provided low cost coverage to New Mexicans for over 50 years. Yet over 180,000 people are still uninsured in our state, including immigrant and undocumented populations. For those that have insurance, healthcare costs are often unsustainable and continue to rise.
Berenice Campas, a New Mexico Together for Healthcare family leader from Bernalillo County sees the Medicaid Buy-in as an important “way for lots of families from around the state to have access to health care. They wouldn’t have to wait to have an emergency before being able to go in.”
Family leaders in the campaign, along with local advocates such as Congressman Ben Ray Lujan and national healthcare experts like Andy Slavitt, agreed at the July meeting that a well-designed Medicaid buy-in plan would be a key step towards solving our state’s healthcare crisis.
Christopher Hudson, a New Mexico Together for Healthcare leader from McKinley County hopes for a Medicaid Buy-in option because “families, around my communities, my friends, my K’e’- in Navajo – that is our family, our surroundings, everyone will be be able to afford insurance without having to decide whether they want to pay for a doctor’s bill or gas bill.”