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Funding appropriated for new programs, ACA protections codified in state law, key bills passed

Rep. Debbie Armstrong, chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, on Saturday thanked her colleagues in the Legislature for the passage of key legislation to make healthcare more accessible and affordable for New Mexicans.

“New Mexicans and their families need access to quality, affordable healthcare,” Armstrong said, “and the New Mexico Legislature really came through for them this year. We passed important legislation that advances new, innovative health coverage policies and guarantees patient protections.”

Through appropriations, the Legislature is investing in new approaches to providing care, Armstrong said, which will help the more 190,000 New Mexicans who still lack health coverage. Those programs include:

· Medicaid Buy-in: $142,000 appropriated to move forward this program, which allows eligible residents to pay affordable monthly premiums for the trusted coverage that Medicaid has provided for more than 50 years. (SB 536, HB 584)
· Health Security Study: $389,000, in conjunction with HM 92, to begin the study needed to begin to create a health insurance cooperative in the state that, when implemented, would provide healthcare for all New Mexicans. (SB 536, HB 584)

Further funding allocations will be used to gather information to help better understand and improve healthcare services and coverage in New Mexico, Armstrong said. They include:

· Health Care Value and Access Commission: $275,000 to set up a commission that will review and make recommendations on the ways healthcare is currently being provided in New Mexico. (HB 584)
· All Payors Database: $900,000 to set up a much-needed statewide database to track, in accordance with privacy laws, medical procedure usage rates, cost, outcomes and more to give the state data that it currently does not have and needs to better support positive healthcare outcomes. (HB 2)

“Budgets are moral documents,” Armstrong said. “How we spend our money shows what we value. It is clear that the New Mexico Legislature recognizes the importance of ensuring all New Mexicans access to quality, affordable healthcare.”

Armstrong further cited key legislation that codifies in New Mexico law.

· HB 436, sponsored by Rep. Liz Thomson, ensures that New Mexicans cannot be denied the health coverage they need because of a pre-existing conditions.
· HB 89, sponsored by Armstrong, ensures that New Mexicans—men and women—can access birth control through their health insurance plans.

“We’ve made tremendous gains under the Affordable Care Act,” Armstrong said, “but we can’t take anything for granted. Healthcare is under attack at the federal level. The Legislature made a clear statement this session that in New Mexico we will do what it takes to make sure quality healthcare is available and affordable. Period.”

Additionally, Armstrong cited several other key, healthcare-related bills supported by the Legislature, including:
· HB 308, sponsored by Rep. Doreen Gallegos and Rep. Gail Armstrong, establishes dental therapy practice in New Mexico, which will improve dental health for thousands of kids and adults around the state.
· SB 337, sponsored by Sen. Linda Lopez and Rep. Nathan Small, stops the unfair practice of consumers getting hit with out-of-network charges for providers or services included in what would otherwise be a covered procedure.
· HB 256, sponsored by Rep. Joanne J. Ferrary, Rep. Liz Thomson, Rep. Debbie Armstrong, Rep. Bill Pratt and Rep. Christine Trujillo, adds e-cigarettes to the Clean Indoor Air Act.

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About Rep. Armstrong: Debbie, Chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, is a long-time health care advocate serving her second term in the New Mexico House of Representatives. Having started her career as a physical therapist, she has worked extensively as a health care administrator, working 10 years with Presbyterian Medical Services in Santa Fe. Prior to serving as Secretary of New Mexico’s Aging and Long-Terms Services Department, she oversaw the department’s Consumer and Elder Rights Division. Debbie is the mother of three adult children. She lives in Albuquerque’s North Valley. Follow her on Twitter @NMRepArmstrong and on Facebook, and sign up for email and text updates.

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