Celebrate 50 Years of Medicare & Medicaid!

You’re invited to the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Medicare & Medicaid. These programs have improved the lives of New Mexicans for half a century and we want you to be there to look forward to 50 more years of success. The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and the Health Care for All Coalition will be celebrating at Explora on July 30th from 4pm-6pm.
Admission is free starting at 1pm, so please feel free to come a few hours early to enjoy the museum with friends and family. Food, beverages, and entertainment will be provided.

Please RSVP with the following link: EventBrite

For more about the anniversary of Medicare & Medicaid, visit the website of the National Academy of Social Insurance, the Kaiser Family Foundation, or the Department of Health and Human Services.

Court of Appeals Strikes Down Exclusion of Farmworkers from Workers’ Compensation

A new day dawns for agricultural workers in New Mexico! The state Court of Appeals just issued a decision that excluding farm and ranch workers from the Workers’ Compensation Act violates the equal protection clause of the state constitution.

The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty has been fighting for this decision since filing our original lawsuit in District Court in 2009. Although we previously won a positive ruling from the District Court Judge, the case has been in appeal for years. Now, the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Administration has stated that they intend to fully enforce the decision by requiring employers to provide coverage for farm and ranch laborers.

This is a huge victory for protecting the health, safety and economic security of New Mexico’s most hardworking and underpaid laborers.

Read the Press Release here: Press-release-Court-of-Appeals-strikes-down-exclusion-2015-06-25.
Read the Court’s Opinion here: Opinion-Court-of-Appeals-2015-06-22.

Human Services Department Takes Smart New Approach to Healthcare for the Incarcerated

On Friday, Governor Martinez signed Senate Bill 42 into law. Under the new law, the NM Human Services Department (HSD) will no longer terminate Medicaid coverage for individuals who are incarcerated, suspending their enrollment instead. The law also calls for HSD to give incarcerated individuals who are not yet enrolled in Medicaid the opportunity to apply for coverage before they are released. These simple changes will make it much easier for people newly released from jail or prison to have immediate access to healthcare services upon re-entering the community. This can make a big difference to our state and to recently released individuals and their families. This law is a good step forward in increasing an individual’s likelihood of receiving the care and services they need, both in physical and behavioral health, and successfully re-entering the community.

For more information, please read the press release: Press-Release-NMCLP-SB-42-Medicaid-Suspension-for-Incarcerated-FINAL-2015-4-13

Human Services Department withdraws new hurdles to food assistance – for now…

Last week, the Human Services Department withdrew proposed changes to work requirements for food assistance, conceding that the Department could not legally implement the new rules.

This about-face was a direct result of our lawsuit challenging the illegal process that the state used to implement the new requirements. The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and the Southwest Organizing Project, along with New Mexicans in need of food assistance, filed this suit on October 31st. Our case outlined how the Department failed to follow proper procedure when it did not make the full proposal available for public review. Additionally, the information that was released contained inaccurate descriptions of the rule changes and contradictory statements about how a person can fulfill the requirements, making it impossible for New Mexicans to comply.

A Santa Fe District Court judge found merit with the concerns we voiced and issued a temporary restraining order, meaning that the proposed changes would not go into effect until a full hearing could be held. Just hours before that hearing, Department attorneys advised the Center and SWOP that the state was withdrawing the proposal. On the same day, we learned that Human Services Department Secretary Sidonie Squier had resigned.

We believe the Human Services Department intends to reissue the new regulations, which include imposing harsh penalties on those who cannot meet the requirements: adults who do not understand and follow the rules could lose access to food assistance for the next 3 years, and other families could lose benefits for up to one year, devastating punishments for those struggling to eke out a living. We will continue to watch for these policy changes in order to defend this vital safety net.