Medicaid buy-in study clears House; Gov. addresses budget needs | KOB 4
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Medicaid buy-in study clears House; Gov. addresses budget needs

The Associated Press
February 05, 2018 10:10 PM

NEW MEXICO HOUSE APPROVES MEDICAID BUY-IN STUDY

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico would study opportunities to allow almost anyone to buy Medicaid health care coverage under a measure approved by the state House of Representatives on Monday.

Lawmakers voted 42-22 to move forward with initial studies about opening up access to Medicaid services for a fee to more people. A Senate vote was still needed to initiate the year-long study by the Legislature and state insurance regulators.

Democratic Rep. Deborah Armstrong says several states are looking at the potential to provide more affordable coverage to consumers through a Medicaid buy-in program.

Any buy-in program would require federal approval or action by Congress, she said. The concept involves redirecting federal subsidies for coverage in the marketplaces created under former President Barack Obama's health care law to a new category of Medicaid, the program for the poor.

Republican Rep. Larry Larranaga of Albuquerque said he does not see the need for a buy-in program given current private and subsidized insurance options.

Armstrong believes a buy-in option might someday provide new, affordable insurance options to roughly 180,000 state residents who remain without coverage.

"It is not meant for the state to supplement" costs, said Armstrong, the lead House sponsor. "It's for someone to purchase what we think is more affordable coverage."

GOVERNOR HIGHLIGHTS LAW-ENFORCEMENT BUDGET NEEDS

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is describing a House-approved budget as soft on crime in a push to increase salaries for state police, corrections officers, prosecutors and public defenders.

The Senate Finance Committee on Monday was preparing amendments to a $6.3 billion state general fund spending plan for the coming fiscal year.

Democratic Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith of Deming says legislative leaders understand the need to increase law enforcement and judiciary salaries. Corrections officers, state police and district attorneys would receive a 6.5 percent pay bump under the House-approved budget.

The bill falls short of the GOP governor's recommended spending on Albuquerque-area prosecutors amid acute concerns about urban crime. Smith says budget priorities from House lawmakers who are running for re-election take precedence over the outgoing governor.

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