By MORGAN LEE – Associated Press
SANTA FE, NM (AP) — New Mexico is bracing for a rapid exodus of up to 100,000 people from subsidized Medicaid health care over the next year as the federal government eases pandemic-era special spending and eligibility for the program, health top officials of the state, lawmakers said on Wednesday.
According to state health and welfare officials, it seems likely but not certain that the federal government will declare its COVID-19 public health emergency over in January, cutting Medicaid enrollment and filling an annual gap of $167 million the finances of the general state funds.
A legislative body met on Wednesday to weigh up the implications. The Biden administration plans to give states 60 days’ notice before making the move.
At the time, Health and Human Services Secretary David Scrase said that between 85,000 and 100,000 residents are likely to become ineligible for Medicaid because of higher earnings upon re-entering the workforce. He said a reduction in supplemental food assistance could also push people back into the workforce and off Medicaid.
People also read…
“We knew this was coming one day and now it becomes part of our budget,” Sccrase said.
State insurance regulators are preparing to help residents transition to insurance policies on the state health insurance exchange, with a plan to waive the first monthly fee, according to a policy brief from the Legislature’s Accountability and Budget Office.
The state has a new stream of taxpayers’ money earmarked for underwriting health insurance plans for low- and middle-income individuals and small business employees.
It comes from a new 2.75% tax on health insurance premiums – the upfront payments made on behalf of an individual or family to keep the insurance active.
New Mexico residents flocked to Medicaid coverage — for people living in poverty or on the cusp — during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the federal government temporarily increased reimbursements for medical providers and expanded patient eligibility.
New Mexico officials say the state has the highest enrollment rate in the state in Medicaid and its companion children’s health insurance program, with a caseload of about 970,000 people out of a population of 2.1 million as of June 2022.
New Mexico is among states across the country that have made it easier for new mothers to keep Medicaid in the year after childbirth, a time when depression and other health issues can arise.
Scrase said the state hopes to soon allow continued Medicaid enrollment for qualifying children to avoid temporary gaps in enrollment that could interfere with regular medical exams and immunizations. He said New Mexico is the second state to adopt the practice.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.