Eyes on Healthcare with Ryan H. Harrigan

The recent attempt by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act highlighted just how complex healthcare truly is. Here in New Mexico, a number of healthcare-related measures have been proposed. Some have been signed into law while others have been vetoed. Below, I’ve outlined a few of the observations on the state of healthcare in New Mexico today.

The ACA and the State
New Mexico runs its own marketplace, beWellnm, using the federal ACA website. New Mexico also adopted the ACA Medicaid expansion, along with 30 other states and the District of Columbia. Nearly 55,000 individuals signed up for coverage through the beWellnm exchange as of January 2016, and more than 270,000 individuals statewide have obtained coverage through the Medicaid expansion since 2014, according to Health Action Network.

The process has not been without its difficulties, both nationally and within our state. The initial glitches with the Healthcare.gov website crippled the process for months. Here in New Mexico, Governor Susana Martinez signed legislation in 2011 designed to strengthen regulatory review of health insurance premium hikes. The legislation was in response to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico being granted a rate increase of 21 percent for its 40,000 customers within the state. Blue Cross and Blue Shield pulled out of the state’s health care exchange in 2016 after its request for an average 51.6 premium rate increase was rejected by the state’s Insurance Superintendent, John Franchini.

In response to efforts to repeal and replace the ACA in early 2017, Governor Martinez insisted that a transition period must be incorporated into the process to ensure that no one loses coverage in the interim. The issue became moot, however, when Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and his fellow national GOP lawmakers failed to garner enough support to bring the measure to a vote in the House. While there is some discussion among national Republicans about reviving the repeal and replace effort, the ACA in its present form, along with beWellnm, seem to be set to remain in place for the foreseeable future. 

Healthcare Related Statewide Legislation – 2017 Regular Legislative Session

  • Senate Bill 82 – Void Certain Healthcare Agreements was sponsored by Democratic State Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino. The bill passed unanimously in both houses of the Legislature and was signed by Governor Martinez in 2017. The law limits the restrictions that can be included in non-compete agreements involving healthcare practitioners, including certified nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives. Non-compete agreements that violate these restrictions will be unenforceable as well as null and void.
  • Senate Bill 367 – Insurance Code Changes was sponsored by Republican State Senator Carroll H. Leavell. This wide-ranging legislation passed both houses unanimously and was signed by the governor. SB 367 includes provisions relating to classification and issuance of stop-loss insurance, allowing claim payment by electronic funds transfer and classification of student health insurance policies. The measure also imposes deadlines for fee payment and a late payment deadline and repeals the Surplus Lines Insurance Multistate Compliance Compact.
  • House Bill 527 – Public Peace, Health, Safety & WelfareMedical Marijuana Changes was sponsored by Republican Representative and Minority Floor Leader Nate Gentry. The bill passed the state House 45 to 16 and passed the state Senate 28 to 9 but was vetoed by the governor. This bill would have added opioid addiction to the list of conditions for which medical marijuana could be legally prescribed within the state. 

Here at SaucedoChavez, we’ve made healthcare one of our main practice areas. We cultivate and maintain contacts within the local healthcare community as well as the Legislature to ensure that we’re up to speed on current and proposed legislation and innovations. Give me a call. I’ll be happy to help you navigate the healthcare maze!