Healthcare Affordability Fund Another Step Closer to Passage

HB 122 Passed Appropriations 11-8, Now Heads to House Floor

The  House Appropriations and Finance Committee on Saturday voted to send to the House floor for a vote HB 122, a bill to create a Healthcare Affordability Fund to help New Mexicans access the healthcare they need.

“This pandemic has made it even more clear that New Mexicans are struggling to access and afford the care they need,” Armstrong said. “This bill will lift up New Mexicans and provide affordable care for tens of thousands.”

Under the bill, New Mexico will collect a portion of a fee that health insurance companies had been paying the federal government under the Affordable Care Act. The money collected, which is expected to be more than $110 million annually, would be used to help lower healthcare costs for New Mexicans unable to afford coverage. Part of the revenue would also be allocated to the General Fund

“This is an incredible opportunity for New Mexico to create a meaningful new revenue stream that would not only fund programs to help New Mexicans afford healthcare, but also bring money into the General Fund,” Armstrong said.

Under an amendment adopted without opposition on Saturday, the Fund will also be used to help small businesses provide coverage for their employees.

“Many small businesses want to support their workers by providing healthcare coverage,” Armstrong said. “Small businesses can play an important role in keeping New Mexicans covered and healthy.”

Under HB 122, the Secretary of Human Services will put together a comprehensive plan to maximize the funding. That planning work would happen in calendar year 2022—the same year that the state will begin collecting the fee—and the critical affordability programs would be implemented starting in 2023.

Programs could include covering the cost of deductibles, cost-sharing or co-pays for some New Mexicans. Another option is expanding health coverage to include some of the 190,000 New Mexicans who are currently uninsured.

“I am excited to see what the future holds,” Armstrong said. “We have the power, with this one piece of legislation, to change health outcomes for hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans. No New Mexican should ever have to decide between going to the doctor or putting food on the table. It’s time to make healthcare affordable for everyone.”

HB 122 passed the committee 11-8 and is now headed to the House floor for a vote.

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About Rep. Armstrong: Debbie, Chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, is a long-time healthcare 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 healthcare 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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published this page in Latest News 2021-03-06 14:47:24 -0700

Paid for by Debbie Armstrong for New Mexico, Jill Riester, Treasurer

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