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State budget shortfall jeopardizes federal Medicaid match funds

Jen French
April 20, 2017 11:16 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A state Medicaid budget shortfall is putting approximately one-third of New Mexicans’ health on the line. Some who are dependent on the government subsidized health insurance say tightening the state health budget is the wrong remedy for the Land of Enchantment.

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The state has proposed Medicaid patients make co-pays ranging from $5 for doctor visits to $50 for outpatient surgery. With debilitating medical conditions that require weekly visits, some worry they won’t be able to afford the co-pays.

Diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Adam Shand works 40 hours a week at the non-profit Parents Reaching Out. As the family liaison, he collects donations as well as advises students enrolled in individualized education programs, or IEPs.

"There's so much in a day,” Shand said. “Most of the time, our job doesn't stop at 5 p.m.”

Medicaid pays for Shand’s prescriptions for his cerebral palsy. If he wasn’t covered, he would have to pay $180 to $280 a month for his medications.

"It's huge,” Shand said. “It's huge."

Lisa Rossignol is in the same predicament. Her 9-year-old daughter Lily has a form of cerebral palsy.

“My husband and I both have master's degrees and we always worked really hard to have insurance, so we always thought we had enough,” said Rossignol, a healthcare liaison for Parents Reaching Out.

When Rossignol gave birth to Lily, the family accumulated $1 million in medical bills during Lily’s first year of life. Medicaid was Lily’s only lifeline.

"Things like her leg braces would probably cost us $10,000 a year,” Rossignol said.

The New Mexico Legislature and Gov. Susana Martinez are debating on giving Medicaid $2 million to $4 million more than they did last year. But due to rising healthcare costs and more qualified New Mexicans, the state is still $38 million short. It means the Land of Enchantment could lose $152 million in federal Medicaid match funds, leaving many families to painfully pay out of their own pockets.

"That's our state losing money,” Rossignol said.

Governor spokesperson Mike Lonergan emailed this statement to KOB-TV:   

Medicaid provides healthcare for our most vulnerable, and the Governor is going to continue to protect it. The governor met with legislative leadership late last week, and she's optimistic they can work together to solve the budget crisis –without raising taxes, or cutting into Medicaid and classroom spending. We hope to have a deal soon, and when we do the Governor will call a special session. In the meantime, it's important to remember that we wouldn't be in this position in the first place had the legislature not passed an unbalanced budget with more than $350 million in tax increases. Nevertheless, the Governor and her administration are optimistic that we'll be able to come together and resolve this - very soon.

"Their decisions do not affect them for the most part,” Shand said. 

Credits

Jen French

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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