Public Hearings on Human Services Department’s Medicaid Plan Ongoing  

ALBUQUERQUE, NM — Public hearings start this week on the Human Services Department’s (HSD) recently released plan for the future of Medicaid in New Mexico – Centennial Care 2.0.

More information about Centennial Care 2.0 can be found on the HSD website here.

The Center on Law and Poverty has released a packet of information detailing alarming changes from the plan that will be harmful and costly to our families and the State that can be found here. Stakeholders are expected to be present to provide public comment at the hearings.

HSD Public Hearings

  • June 14th – Albuquerque – 3:30-5pm – CNM Workforce Training Center (5600 Eagle Rock Ave. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113)
  • June 19th – Silver City – 4:00 – 6:00 pm – WNMU – GRC Auditorium (1000 W. College Ave., Silver City, NM 88061)
  • June 21st – Farmington – 4:30 – 6:30 pm – Bonnie Dallas Senior Center (109 E. La Plata St., Farmington, NM 87401)
  • June 26th – Roswell – 4:30 – 6:30 pm – Roswell Public Library (301 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Roswell, NM 88201)

Tribal Consultation Hearing

  • June 23rd – Albuquerque – 9:00am – noon – Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (2401 12th Street NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104)

New Study Shows Devastating Consequences for New Mexico under Latest Healthcare Bill

New Mexico will be forced to make tough choices under the Republican healthcare bill in Congress that slashes federal funding for Medicaid. A new study shows that the bill’s plans to reduce federal Medicaid funding would require the state to come up with an additional $427 million annually to maintain healthcare coverage for its 900,000 residents enrolled in Medicaid. If it can’t or won’t, more than 250,000 New Mexicans could lose their coverage and become uninsured.

The study, released today, was conducted by Dr. Kelly O’Donnell, an economist with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation at UNM and is available here.

The bill drastically lowers the federal funding match for Medicaid expansion adults and permanently caps funding on the entire program, resulting in a loss of $11.4 billion in federal revenues and more than 30,000 jobs by 2026. It’s an understatement to say that this would devastate New Mexico’s healthcare system and economy.

The bill reneges on the federal government’s long-standing commitment to funding Medicaid. And President Trump promised on the campaign trail that he would not cut Medicaid, yet his administration has revived negotiations for the bill after it failed to garner enough votes among House Republicans last month. The latest proposal, in addition to decimating Medicaid funding, would also remove important consumer protections like allowing insurance companies to charge higher rates for people with pre-existing conditions and eliminating coverage of essential services like mental health and maternity care.

Congressman Pearce has not taken a position on the legislation. He should take a look at this study because the consequences for New Mexico will be drastic.

Call Congressman Pearce to Vote NO on Healthcare Bill

STOP the Attack on New Mexico’s Healthcare System! Ask Congressman Pearce to Vote NO Against the Healthcare Repeal Bill

Friends, Congress is about to make a critical vote on healthcare — This Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote on the Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This bill recklessly endangers New Mexico’s healthcare system by making it even more expensive for middle class and working families to afford private healthcare coverage and by dismantling Medicaid, which covers more than 900,000 New Mexicans.

  • More than 145,000 New Mexicans will lose their healthcare coverage – including 75,000 in Congressman Pearce’s district alone mostly due to massive cuts to Medicaid, including rolling back the Medicaid Expansion and cutting federal funding support for Medicaid.
  • Thousands of jobs could be lost statewide! Medicaid directly supports over 50,000 jobs in New Mexico while also providing a major payment source for our hospitals, clinics and nursing homes.
  • The bill caps Medicaid funding, which will force our state to ration care or make deep cuts to healthcare coverage for New Mexicans who need it the most – children, the elderly, people with disabilities and low-income adults.
  • The bill takes healthcare away from the poor while giving tax breaks to the rich, providing $275 billion in tax cuts to the wealthiest households over the next ten years.

Congressman Pearce MUST hear from you TODAY! Please call his D.C. office at (202) 225-2365 and ask him to take a stand to protect our healthcare by voting NO for the healthcare repeal bill. The call will only take a minute.

ACTION ALERT: Call Governor Now to Prevent Budget Cuts

Your action is needed urgently –   the House and Senate just sent a tax package today to Governor Martinez to help avert more deep budget cuts that would further slash funding for our schools, healthcare and public safety agencies. New Mexico is facing school closures and further reduction to classrooms and teachers, the elimination of certain Medicaid services for low-income families and people with disabilities, and a worsening public safety crisis from under-resourcing our courts and other key agencies.

House Bill 202 makes responsible and overdue changes to the tax code, including to level the playing field for small businesses by taxing out of state internet sellers, close up tax loopholes for certain industries, and update the gas tax so the funds can be invested into our roads.

Please call the Governor’s office at 505-476-2200. Ask her to sign HB202, and not to veto any part of it. Let her know that New Mexicans will not accept more budget cuts and that you support this tax package as a fair solution that does not hurt our families.  It will only take a minute to leave a message.

ACA Repeal Plan Jeopardizes New Mexicans’ Healthcare, Economic Recovery

Statement by Sireesha Manne, Healthcare Supervising Attorney at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty

 

 

We call upon our elected leaders to strongly oppose the U.S. House’s reckless legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It would threaten the healthcare system providing coverage to nearly half of all New Mexicans and, which experts agree, has been one of the few bright spots in the state economy.

New Mexico’s low income and rural communities would be especially hard hit. Our state would be forced to cut Medicaid coverage or ration services for hundreds of thousands of children, people with disabilities, the elderly, and low income adults. Two thirds of our children in New Mexico are enrolled in Medicaid, and the program is the primary payer for nursing homes and community-based long-term services and supports for people with disabilities

Alarmingly, the bill is currently rushing through the House for a vote without public hearings. The lack of transparent, public debate is unacceptable for a bill that would endanger so many lives, exacerbate poverty, and inflict long-lasting damage on our healthcare system. Our families deserve to know the critical facts and their full impact.

The House proposal would make deep cuts to Medicaid by reducing and permanently capping federal funding for the program and for each person enrolled in Medicaid. This includes phasing out enhanced federal funding for the Medicaid Expansion that gained coverage for over 260,000 New Mexicans – reneging on the federal government’s promises to support state expansion of coverage for low-income adults. The legislation unfairly shifts billions of dollars of costs to the states.

The results would damage the entire healthcare system, especially in rural areas that have struggled with practitioner shortages. Already Medicaid payments to healthcare clinics, nursing homes, and safety net hospitals have been cut in the recent years due to state budget shortfalls and are too low to support even the basic costs of services. More practitioners are refusing to see Medicaid patients and thousands of jobs have been lost in the healthcare field. The damage from Medicaid cuts would be very difficult – if not impossible – to reverse if federal support is limited by funding caps.

Healthcare coverage will become unaffordable for low-income families, pricing thousands of New Mexicans out of the health insurance market. The bill will shrink tax credits given to families to help buy health insurance by $1,600 per year on average and much more for many older consumers and lower income families, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. People that cannot keep up with the premiums will also be punished with a 30 percent surcharge to their insurance rates if they miss payments.

New Mexico’s economy will be threatened by this legislation. Medicaid supports over 50,000 jobs from federal funding that tops $4.5 billion each year. The expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act added over 5,000 jobs. Healthcare became a leading sector of job growth in an otherwise stagnant economy.

New Mexico has struggled with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. We would see thousands more jobs lost and a downsizing of the healthcare system with cuts to federal support for Medicaid and health insurance subsidies.

The legislation gives tax cuts to the wealthy, big insurance, and pharmaceutical companies by making deep cuts to Medicaid, reducing funding for Medicare, and getting rid of financial subsidies that are targeted for hard working, low income families. In other words, tax cuts for the rich are being paid for by taking away healthcare coverage from the poor.

We ask our leaders to carefully weigh the consequences of this proposal and listen to the views of the public. A recent poll has found that most voters in the state do not want to repeal the Medicaid Expansion. Nearly three-quarters of New Mexican voters oppose reducing federal funding for Medicaid. Overall, four out of five voters believe Medicaid is important or “very important” to our residents.

The Affordable Care Act led to historic achievements in New Mexico by cutting our uninsured rate in half. Over 95 percent of our children now have healthcare coverage. We cannot afford to go backwards and lose the substantial progress we have made.

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Download the a copy of the press release here.

ACTION ALERT: Ask New Mexico’s Leaders to Stand Up for our Healthcare

We’ve all been working hard to build a great healthcare system for New Mexicans. Along the way, we have seen significant gains for our state for which we are thankful.

  • 95% of our children in New Mexico have healthcare coverage now, mostly because of Medicaid.
  • Over 250,000 adults gained coverage from the Medicaid Expansion in 2014.
  • Medicaid supports over 50,000 jobs in our healthcare sector and keeps clinics, hospitals and caregiving agencies open in our state.
  • • Medicaid saves costs for everyone by covering uninsured people and offering preventive and life-saving care.

As we move forward, we cannot afford to lose our gains. We lost over $330 million for healthcare and over 3,000 jobs this year for failing to adequately fund Medicaid. Now with uncertainty about healthcare at the national level, we must work harder than ever to protect and strengthen our healthcare.

Please call our leaders and ask them to fully fund Medicaid. It will only take a few minutes. Let them know why you are thankful for Medicaid.

Governor Susana Martinez – (505) 476-2200
Senator John Arthur Smith, Chair of Legislative Finance Committee – (575) 546-4979
Representative Patty Lundstrom, Member of Legislative Finance Committee – (505) 722-2980

Please call this week – before December 9th. The Legislative Finance Committee and the Executive branch are putting together state budget proposals for next year. It’s important these individuals hear from you this week.

Judge Holds NM Human Services Chief in Contempt

human-services-departmentOriginally published in the Albuquerque Journal September 28, 2016
https://www.abqjournal.com/854783/judge-finds-contempt-in-hsd-legal-case.html

SANTA FE – A federal judge held New Mexico’s top human services official in contempt Tuesday for failing to comply with court orders aimed at improving the administration of food aid and Medicaid health care benefits.

The contempt order against Human Services Secretary Brent Earnest by U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Gonzales upheld findings that the cabinet secretary did not diligently attempt to comply with court orders concerning the handling of Medicaid benefit renewals, eligibility for immigrants, training for agency employees and other administrative requirements.

The judge, in his Tuesday order, also said objections filed by the agency were without merit and that the overall direction of the case was troubling.

“It remains clear that HSD and its officials have failed to exercise the leadership, control and managerial oversight to effectively come into compliance with the court orders,” Gonzales wrote.

However, a spokesman for the Human Services Department, which runs the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, took issue with at least part of the judge’s order.

“We strongly disagree with the judge’s characterization of the department, which doesn’t take into account all of our efforts to resolve long-standing issues – some of which are three decades old and occurred under several administrations,” HSD spokesman Kyler Nerison said. “However, we are pleased that the court has agreed with us to bring in an outside monitor to help resolve those issues.”

“Regardless, we are going to continue providing services to New Mexicans who need it the most,” he added.

The contempt finding accompanies the judge’s earlier approval of plans for a court-appointed special master to help ensure federally funded benefits are administered properly amid internal investigations by state and federal agencies into allegations that food aid applications were falsified.

The civil contempt order carries no additional sanctions or penalties.

Sovereign Hager, an attorney at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and advocate for aid beneficiaries in the litigation, said the order sends a strong message nonetheless.

“I think this is a message that if things don’t work out with a special master and the state doesn’t come into compliance, the court will look to harsher remedies,” she said.

New Mexico has one of the nation’s highest poverty rates, and there were more than 536,000 New Mexicans receiving food assistance benefits under SNAP, which was formerly known as food stamps, as of July, according to HSD. That figure was up by more than 7 percent – or nearly 36,000 people – from a year earlier.

The judge’s contempt order is the latest twist in a 1988 lawsuit. Earlier this year, a series of hearings were conducted by U.S. Magistrate Judge Carmen Garza, who had been tasked with monitoring compliance with a consent decree in the lawsuit and previous court orders.

Those hearings showed potential problems with the SNAP program, including testimony that state intake workers had been ordered to falsify income for some applicants, effectively denying them emergency benefits.

The testimony prompted criticism of Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration by top legislative Democrats and party officials, including a call from Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, the chairman of the interim Health and Human Services Committee, for Earnest to resign.

Earnest took over as HSD secretary – after Martinez picked him for the job – in December 2014 after the agency’s former secretary stepped down.

Read the Order from Judge Gonzales here.

Op-Ed: Underfunding Medicaid is a Foolish Decision

shutterstock baby with doctor for website -2015-12-17by Abuko Estrada & Sireesha Manne

Originally published in the Albuquerque Journal, September 26, 2016. https://www.abqjournal.com/852766/underfunding-medicaid-is-a-foolish-decision.html

As taxpayers, we expect that when government spends our money it will be leveraged toward the best investments that provide the most benefits to our state.

Currently, New Mexico receives four dollars in federal funds for every state dollar invested in Medicaid. This money goes directly into patient care and supports over 50,000 mostly private-sector jobs in the state.

Rather than maximizing this $4 to $1 return on investment, New Mexico underfunded the Medicaid budget in the 2016 legislative session.

For fiscal year 2017, New Mexico is losing over $265 million in federal matching funds for Medicaid by failing to come up with $67 million to meet Medicaid’s minimum budget needs. Our health care system is taking a massive financial loss of over $330 million this year — or nearly $1 million a day!

This is a budgeting disaster for New Mexico that is expected to result in thousands of jobs being lost and, worse yet, a reduction in care to patients. Health care had been one of the only growing job sectors in the state because of the expansion of Medicaid that has added over 4,800 jobs in 2014 alone. However, due to budget shortfalls, the state has decided to reduce Medicaid payment levels for hospitals, doctors and other medical practitioners.

In response, health care providers have issued serious warnings that the low Medicaid rates will force them to downsize staff and potentially even close entire facilities.

The decision to cut Medicaid is self-defeating because New Mexico desperately needs jobs and a stronger health care system.

Nearly every county in the state – 32 out of 33 counties – has shortages for primary care, dental care and mental health care. The problems are most severe for patients in rural areas, where over 30 percent of residents live.

A prime example of health care workforce shortages is the closing of the obstetrics department at Alta Vista Regional Hospital in Las Vegas, N.M. Since 2010, three other hospitals have ceased their obstetric services, forcing expectant mothers to travel unreasonable distances for prenatal care.

Medicaid patients face the most serious consequences of these shortages. The Legislative Finance Committee recently found that up to half of providers in some areas in New Mexico are refusing to take new Medicaid patients.

Another report has found that a quarter of Dona Aña County residents needing hospitalization are going to Texas to get services. However, as illustrated in a recent news article, many doctors in Texas now refuse to see these patients because our state’s Medicaid reimbursement rates are too low.

This is just the beginning.

Medicaid provides health care coverage to two out of three children in New Mexico, as well as seniors, people with disabilities and low-income families. However, due to Medicaid budget shortfalls, the state next plans to cut health care benefits and charge higher patient fees.

Studies have shown that these changes are likely to result in massive losses of coverage for low-income families and will prevent patients from accessing needed services, only deepening New Mexico’s health care crisis.

New Mexico needs to responsibly maximize Medicaid matching funds. The first step is to fix the state’s revenue system. New Mexico is losing needed dollars to tax cuts and loopholes created in the last 15 years for large corporations and the highest-income earners, which have not proven to produce jobs or benefit the state.

There are several ways to raise revenues without hurting working families, such as freezing corporate tax rates at their current levels, which are now on par with other states and further reductions are not needed, taxing capital gains and investment income at the same rate as earned income and targeting products that are undertaxed and that are not necessities, such as new vehicles, alcohol and tobacco.

By not acting, New Mexico is losing precious resources that our state needs to spur job growth and support our health care infrastructure. Let’s put our money into our wisest investments – Medicaid is certainly one of the best.

Op-Ed: State’s decision to cut Medicaid is self-defeating

by Abuko Estrada and Sireesha Manne

Originally published September 19, 2016, NMPolitics.net http://nmpolitics.net/index/2016/09/states-decision-to-cut-medicaid-is-self-defeating/

COMMENTARY: As taxpayers, we expect that when government spends our money it will be leveraged toward the best investments that provide the most benefits to our state. Currently, New Mexico receives four dollars in federal funds for every state dollar invested in Medicaid. This money goes directly into patient care and supports over 50,000 jobs in the state, mostly in the private sector.

Rather than maximizing this $4-to-$1 return on investment, New Mexico underfunded the Medicaid budget in the 2016 legislative session.

For fiscal year 2017, New Mexico is losing over $265 million in federal matching funds for Medicaid by failing to come up with $67 million to meet Medicaid’s minimum budget needs. Our health-care system is taking a massive financial loss of over $330 million this year – or nearly $1 million a day!

This is a budgeting disaster for New Mexico that is expected to result in thousands of jobs being lost and, worse yet, a reduction in care to patients. Health care had been one of the only growing job sectors in the state because of the expansion of Medicaid, which added over 4,800 jobs in 2014 alone.

However, due to budget shortfalls, the state has decided to reduce Medicaid payment levels for hospitals, doctors and other medical practitioners. In response, health-care providers have issued serious warnings that the low Medicaid rates will force them to downsize staff and potentially even close entire facilities.

The decision to cut Medicaid is self-defeating because New Mexico desperately needs jobs and a stronger health-care system. Nearly every county in the state – 32 out of 33 counties – have shortages for primary care, dental care, and mental health care. The problems are most severe for patients in rural areas, where over 30 percent of residents live.

A prime example of health-care workforce shortages is the closing of the obstetrics department at Alta Vista Regional Hospital in Las Vegas. Since 2010, three other hospitals have ceased their obstetric services, forcing expectant mothers to travel unreasonable distances for prenatal care.

Medicaid patients face the most serious consequences of these shortages. The Legislative Finance Committee recently found that up to half of providers in some areas in New Mexico are refusing to take new Medicaid patients.

Another report has found that a quarter of Dona Aña County residents needing hospitalization are going to Texas to get services. However, as illustrated in a recent news article, many doctors in Texas are now refusing to see these patients because our state’s Medicaid reimbursement rates are too low.

This is just the beginning. Medicaid provides health-care coverage to two out of three children in New Mexico, as well as seniors, people with disabilities and low-income families. However, due to Medicaid budget shortfalls, the state next plans to cut health-care benefits and charge higher patient fees.

Studies have shown that these changes are likely to result in massive losses of coverage for low-income families and will prevent patients from accessing needed services, only deepening New Mexico’s health-care crisis.

New Mexico needs to responsibly maximize Medicaid matching funds. The first step is to fix the state’s revenue system. New Mexico is losing needed dollars to tax cuts and loopholes created in the last 15 years for large corporations and the highest income earners, which have not proven to produce jobs or benefit the state.

There are several ways to raise revenues without hurting working families, such as freezing corporate tax rates at their current levels, which are now on par with other states and further reductions are not needed; taxing capital gains and investment income at the same rate as earned income; and targeting products that are being under-taxed and that are not necessities, such as new vehicles, alcohol and tobacco.

By not acting, New Mexico is losing precious resources that our state needs to spur job growth and support our health-care infrastructure. Let’s put our money into our wisest investments – Medicaid is certainly one of the best.

Abuko Estrada and Sireesha Manne are attorneys with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty.

Action Alert: Stop Damaging Cuts to Medicaid!

New Mexico’s healthcare system is facing a crisis due to budget cuts for Medicaid. Over 875,000 people in our state get healthcare coverage through Medicaid and the program supports over 50,000 jobs in New Mexico.

Medicaid lost significant federal match funds this year – $4 for every $1 in state funding cuts – losing over $265 million in federal funds that would have gone into our economy to support patient care and thousands of jobs. Soon, the Governor and Legislature will be going into a special session to cut even more of the state budget due to revenue shortfalls.

The budget shortfalls have already cut Medicaid to the bone – resulting in lower payments to healthcare providers that are expected to cause job loss, intensify workforce shortages and make it even harder for Medicaid patients to find doctors and services. The next step will be to begin cutting Medicaid healthcare benefits and charge higher fees for low-income patients – changes that will cause people to lose coverage and reduce access to care.

The Governor and these legislators below are making critical decisions about the budget and MUST hear from you by next Thursday, September 22. Please call them todayThis will only take 5 minutes. For each call, leave a short message with the Governor’s staff, the legislators or a voicemail that includes your name, phone number, and an ask to not cut Medicaid.

Thank you!


Name Phone Number
Governor Martinez (505) 476-2200
Rep. Larry Larrañaga ‪(505) 821-4948
Rep. Jason Harper ‪(505) 554-7970
Rep. Patricia Lundstrom ‪(505) 722-2980
Sen. John Arthur Smith (575) 546-8546
Sen. Stuart Ingle (575) 356-3088