New Mexico prepares to exit Medicaid coverage
SANTA FE — New Mexico braces for a rapid exodus of up to 100,000 people from subsidized Medicaid health care next year as the federal government phases out special pandemic-era spending and eligibility on the agenda, the state’s top health official told lawmakers on Wednesday.
State health and wellness officials say the federal government appears likely but not certain to declare an end to its COVID-19 public health emergency in January, slashing Medicaid enrollment and leaving a yearly gap $167 million in state general fund finances.
A legislative panel met on Wednesday to weigh the consequences. The Biden administration plans to give states 60 days notice before making the decision.
At this point, Health and Human Services Secretary David Scrase said between 85,000 and 100,000 residents are no longer likely to qualify for Medicaid due to their increased incomes as they age. re-enter the labor market. He said a cut in extra food assistance could also get people back into the workforce and off Medicaid.
“We knew it would happen one day and now it’s part of our budget,” Scrase said.
State insurance regulators are gearing up to help residents transition to insurance policies on the state health insurance exchange with a plan to waive first monthly fees, briefing says Legislative Assembly Budget and Accountability Office policy.
The state has a new stream of tax dollars dedicated to underwriting health insurance offerings for low- and middle-income people, as well as employees of small businesses.
It comes from a new 2.75% tax on health insurance premiums – the initial payments made on behalf of an individual or family to keep insurance active.
New Mexico residents flocked to Medicaid insurance — for those living in poverty or on the cusp — during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the federal government temporarily increased reimbursements to medical providers and extended patient eligibility.
New Mexico officials say the state has the highest enrollment in the nation for Medicaid and its supplemental children’s health insurance program, with a June 2022 case count of about 970,000 people. out of the state’s 2.1 million residents.
New Mexico is among states nationwide that have made it easier for new moms to stay on Medicaid in the year after giving birth, a time when depression and other health issues can develop.
Scrase said the state hopes to soon provide continuous Medicaid enrollment for qualifying children, to avoid intermittent enrollment hiatuses that can interfere with regular medical checkups and vaccinations. He said New Mexico would be the second state to adopt the practice.