Armstrong Introduces Legislation to Establish Medicaid Buy-in

Innovative Program Allows New Mexicans to Purchase Trusted Medicaid Coverage

Rep. Debbie Armstrong, chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, on Tuesday introduced legislation to establish a Medicaid Buy-in plan in New Mexico that would allow certain New Mexicans to purchase Medicaid coverage starting in 2021.

“Medicaid is a trusted health insurance provider that has been taking care of New Mexico families for more than 50 years,” Armstrong said. “By leveraging the strength of the existing federal-state Medicaid partnership, we will create an affordable public option to help people currently ineligible for Medicaid--but also not covered under the Affordable Care Act--get insured and get the healthcare they need.”

HB 416, which will be officially read into the record on Wednesday, calls on the Health and Human Services Department to create a Medicaid Buy-in program that would be ready for customers in 2021. The bill further calls on HSD to continue studying ways to adapt the state’s Medicaid Buy-in program to possibly cover more people and to ensure affordability. HSD will report their findings to the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee in 2020.

“We’ve come a long way in recent years. More people than ever before have health insurance coverage and can access the healthcare they need,” Armstrong said, “but there are still thousands of New Mexicans without coverage. Medicaid Buy-in will finally make health insurance affordable for those who have fallen through the cracks for too long.”

Simply put, Medicaid Buy-in allows eligible New Mexicans to pay monthly premiums to the state to be covered by Medicaid. The initial plan gives that option to people who are currently not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid or ACA subsidies. However, based on HSD’s findings, the program created by HB 416 could be adapted to include other groups of people.

“Medicaid Buy-In is a simple idea, with a lot of potential for helping the New Mexicans who—for a variety of reasons--are struggling the most to get covered,” Armstrong said.

HB 416 also includes funding to support HSD’s work to create the program and it appropriates $12 million to create the Healthcare Affordability and Access Improvement Fund, which would be managed by the State Investment Council and the income from which would be used to ensure the continued affordability of Medicaid Buy-in.

Once the bill is formally read in, the Speaker of the House will announce its committee assignments.

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About Rep. Armstrong: Debbie, Chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, is a long-time health care advocate serving her second term in the New Mexico House of Representatives. Having started her career as a physical therapist, she has worked extensively as a health care administrator, working 10 years with Presbyterian Medical Services in Santa Fe. Prior to serving as Secretary of New Mexico’s Aging and Long-Terms Services Department, she oversaw the department’s Consumer and Elder Rights Division. Debbie is the mother of three adult children. She lives in Albuquerque’s North Valley.  Follow her on Twitter @NMRepArmstrong and on Facebook, and sign up for email and text updates.

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