SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The administration of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is backing legislation that would expand subsidies to the state’s health insurance exchange for residents who don’t qualify for Medicaid. A first legislative hearing was scheduled for Wednesday on a bill that would substitute a state surtax on insurance premiums for a slightly smaller federal fee that expired late last year.
Proceeds would be used to pay down premiums and other out-of-pocket costs for individuals and families obtaining insurance through the state’s exchange, an outgrowth of the Affordable Care Act. State insurance regulators hope the measure might extend insurance coverage to 23,000 people who go without coverage. States including Colorado, Delaware, and New Jersey have enacted a similar fee.
In New Mexico, it could increase state government revenues by an estimated $153 million annually. About $115 million would go toward lowering consumer costs for insurance, with the remainder transferred to the state general fund. New Mexico completes the transition this year to its own self-contained marketplace for insurance. About 43,000 people relied on the exchange for insurance access last year.
President Joe Biden last week ordered government health insurance markets to reopen for a special sign-up window, offering uninsured Americans a haven amid the pandemic. New Mexico residents have flocked to Medicaid health care, with 43% enrollment statewide as of November as the coronavirus wreaks economic havoc and shifts the way people receive health care.