Budget Surplus in New Mexico Provides Additional Opportunity for Universal Health Coverage Proposal but Obstacles Remain, According to a New Report
NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a leading provider of managed care market intelligence, reports that the July 2008 announcement of a nearly $400 million revenue windfall for the state of New Mexico has resulted in Gov. Bill Richardson's requesting a special session with lawmakers where healthcare reform legislation will be on the agenda. According to the newly released Albuquerque Market Overview report, the healthcare reform legislation backed by Gov. Richardson called for universal coverage and died in the state Senate earlier this year.
"The governor, a Democrat, has pushed hard for legislation to implement universal healthcare in New Mexico but failed to gain the support of some state senators in his own party during the Legislature's 2008 regular session," stated Josh Kelley, analyst with HealthLeaders-InterStudy and author of the report. "Despite the increased tax revenue in New Mexico, some lawmakers apparently remain unconvinced that universal healthcare will be affordable in the long-term."
According to the report, the governor's reform plan would require everyone in the state to either purchase private insurance or obtain coverage via a government program. There would be no penalties for those without health insurance. In this plan, insurance companies would be forced to offer coverage to all, regardless of medical history. Additionally, carriers would be required to spend 85 percent of revenue from premiums on medical care.
Gov. Richardson's plan also calls for a healthcare authority to oversee healthcare finances in the state, including several publicly funded insurance programs, the state's insurance alliance and medical insurance pool; the latter two entities were created by the government but are not directly government-subsidized.
"Gov. Richardson believes he should appoint the authority's director, however House lawmakers did not agree with this approach, and also reduced the authority's power in the bill they passed during the regular session," continued Kelley.
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