What Health Action NM is Reading This Week:
California’s state legislature considers extending health coverage options to undocumented immigrants. The Affordable Care Act barred undocumented immigrants from receiving Medicaid benefits, financial assistance on the exchange, and even purchasing coverage on the newly-created health insurance marketplaces. California State Senator Ricardo Lara recently introduced a bill that would extend coverage to over a million undocumented immigrants in California by providing state funding for this population. Communities throughout New Mexico are strengthened by families with undocumented immigrants. And yet so many members of these families lack meaningful access to health coverage. Is it time for New Mexico to start thinking about how to cover undocumented immigrants in our state?
- Barbara Webber, Executive Director
Congress passed a bill extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In addition to an historic effort to overhaul Medicare’s payment system, Congress has funded an essential health coverage program for kids, called CHIP, for two years. While a four year extension would have been preferable, this deal secures protections for children that have been built in to the program that would have been under threat if the program weren’t part of this package. Senator Udall and Senator Heinrich had the opportunity to champion a four year extension of the bill and stood in support of the measure, for which we commend them. Health Action NM thanks all of our state’s delegation for supporting access to health care for children in New Mexico and throughout the nation.
- Colin Baillio, Communications and Outreach
Florida achieves remarkable health coverage outcomes by embracing a community-based outreach and enrollment model. Time and time again, we are reminded of the importance of outreach and in-person enrollment assistance. Advocates in Florida have fully embraced this strategy, with promising results. Despite opposition from state government, Florida “surpass[ed] enrollment projections and [achieved greater numbers than] much-larger California and even Texas, a state more populous, more uninsured and with similar Republican opposition to the law.” Florida's model exemplifies the type of program that New Mexico must adopt to ensure that all children and families thrive.
- Joe Martinez, Consumer Outreach Coordinator
New York begins implementing law protecting consumers from surprise out-of-network medical bills. Private insurance plans often allow consumers to access a limited network of health care providers. These are known as “in-network providers.” If a consumer visits a doctor who isn’t in their network, they’re usually on the hook for the full cost of the services they receive. New York’s state legislature recognized that people are often in situations where they require emergency services outside of their insurer’s network or aren’t notified that a provider isn’t in their network. The state passed a law to protect consumers from those unexpected costs.
As of March 31st, “all health plans must cover at the in-network cost any out-of-network provider bill for emergency services, as well as surprise non-emergency bills for physician services in a hospital or surgical facility when an in-network provider is unavailable; the consumer was not informed in advance; or when a physician refers the consumer to any out-of-network provider,” according to the Governor's Office. Shouldn’t New Mexico protect consumers who find themselves in a situation when they aren't aware of or able to determine whether their provider is in network?
- DeAnza Sapien, Administration and Grant Development