The decision means that up to 170,000 New Mexicans will be able to be covered under Medicaid. It will provide funding for those who make up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level — which is $15,400 for an individual.
Martinez described the decision as being part of “an obligation to provide an adequate level of basic health care services” for New MExicans that are most in need — while balancing that with ensuring “our state’s financial security.”
“This decision was made with the input of our fellow New Mexicans. Over the past few months, I’ve done a lot of listening. I’ve met with health advocates, hospital leaders, both rural and urban providers, members of the business community, legislators, and many others,” said Governor Martinez in her statement.
Some that had pressured Martinez to make the change lauded the announcement.
“The right decision was made today for New Mexico’s families, children, and economy,” New Mexico Voices for Children’s executive director Dr. Veronica C. García said in a statement sent to the press. “The Medicaid expansion will do much more than provide health coverage for some 150,000 low-income adults who currently have no insurance. Some 50,000 New Mexico children who are eligible for Medicaid have been allowed to fall through the cracks and are not enrolled. As low-income parents enroll for Medicaid under new the eligibility criteria beginning in 2014, their children will be enrolled in the state’s New MexiKids program.”
A number of Republican governors, including Rick Perry of Texas, have rejected the expansion. A total of
nine ten states have opted out of the expansion.
Proponents noted that the Medicaid expansion could actually be a boon to New Mexico.
From a piece I wrote for Clearly New Mexico about a Revenue Stabilization and Tax Policy interim committee in 2011:
There are two main revenue streams from the federal government that New Mexico will benefit from according to [New Mexico Voices for Children Policy Director Bill] Jordan. One is the money coming in directly from Medicaid. The other money is the money that would come in the form of tax breaks for health insurance for low-income individuals.
New Mexico will benefit just from the four percent health insurance premium tax.
The Medicaid expansion was part of the health care reform bill that became law in 2010. However, the Medicaid expansion became optional when the United States Supreme Court ruled the health care reform law constitutional.
This meant that Martinez had a decision to make. Nwe Mexico In Depth recently wrote an article about the decision and the effects it would have. In the article, State Sen. Sue Wilson-Beffort, R-Sandia Park, said she thought that Martienz would accept the expansion.
Other groups, like The Rio Grande Foundation unsuccessfully, urged Martinez to reject the expansion saying it would be too costly.
Note: Post updated to reflect how many states have opted out of the expansion.