SANTA FE–New Mexico Together for Healthcare, a coalition of local organizations and families from across the state advocating for better healthcare for all New Mexicans, on Tuesday announced its support of HB 416, The Medicaid Buy-in Act, which leverages the state Medicaid program to create a new, quality, affordable healthcare coverage option for New Mexico.
“No New Mexican family should go without healthcare because they cannot afford it,” said Abuko D. Estrada, healthcare supervising attorney with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. “The Medicaid Buy-in creates an unprecedented opportunity for New Mexico to lead the nation in increasing access to quality, affordable healthcare coverage for its residents.
HB 416, introduced by Rep. Debbie Armstrong on Tuesday and will be read into the record on Wednesday. The bill calls on the Human Services Department to develop a Medicaid Buy-in plan by January 2021, allowing New Mexicans not currently eligible for Medicaid, Medicare or Affordable Care Act subsidies to pay monthly premiums to “buy-in” to Medicaid.
“New Mexico is leading the way in developing and implementing the Medicaid Buy-in,” said Adriann Barboa, field director with Strong Families New Mexico. “More than 830,000 New Mexicans—about 40 percent of our population—already count on and trust Medicaid to provide their health coverage. Having such a strong, reliable Medicaid program already in place will give the Buy-in a strong foundation.”
New Mexico Together for Healthcare further says that New Mexicans are ready for the Medicaid Buy-in, pointing to New Mexicans who are already excited to participate in the program.
“When my grandson was born, he had no health insurance,” said Althea Yazzie of Twin Lakes. “A simple hospital visit and X-ray while he was still an infant left my son and daughter-in-law confused and scared because the hospital bill was so much more than they expected—or could afford. With Medicaid Buy-in they could have bought into coverage before he was born to ensure that he could get the healthcare he needed. Thankfully, my grandson is healthy today. That’s not true for too many other families.”
Yazzie is not alone, says Colin Baillio with Health Action New Mexico. In fact, recent polling by US of Care shows that 74 percent of New Mexicans support Medicaid Buy-in.
“Even with the ACA and other efforts to get people covered, 190,000 New Mexicans do not have healthcare coverage and are not able to afford even basic, preventive care,” Baillio said. “Medicaid Buy-in will help those New Mexico families.”
New Mexico Together for Healthcare has planned an extensive advocacy effort to educate legislators not only about the program itself but also about their constituents’ very real need for Medicaid Buy-in.
“New Mexico communities are mobilized and ready to make their voices heard,” said Olga Hernandez, a community healthcare worker from Doña Ana County, and advocate for HB416 . “For too long too many New Mexicans have had to decide between paying their bills or getting the healthcare they need. New Mexicans know that it’s time for a change. Medicaid Buy-in will create the change they need—and deserve.”
New Mexico Together for Healthcare plans a day of action at the Legislature on Wednesday, February 6. Led by Strong Families New Mexico, more than 240 New Mexicans from around the state have already signed up to come to the Capitol to share their stories and advocate for Medicaid Buy-in.
NM Together for Healthcare is a statewide, multiracial coalition of families and community organizations working together to strengthen healthcare access in New Mexico, led by Strong Families New Mexico, New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, and Health Action New Mexico. The campaign’s website is http://nmtogether4health.org/ Follow the campaign on Facebook @NMTogether4Healthcare and Twitter @NMT4HC and Instagram @NMT4HC.