March 5, 2020

Affordable prescription, other health bills, become law

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a quartet of health-related bills into law Wednesday, including legislation strengthening New Mexico’s health insurance exchange and opening the door for the state to import wholesale drugs from Canada.

Among the pieces of legislation signed was Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Sen. Mary Kay Papen and Rep. Debbie Armstrong, which aims to make medicine more affordable for New Mexicans by allowing the state to apply for federal approval to import medications from Canada, where prescription drugs are an average of 30 percent cheaper. 

“My goal is to make health care so much more cost-effective and affordable for New Mexicans,” Lujan Grisham told reporters at a Roundhouse signing ceremony. 

Lujan Grisham also put pen to paper on House Bill 100, sponsored by Armstrong and Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena, which gives the state’s health insurance exchange more autonomy in helping uninsured residents gain access to affordable health insurance plans.

The bill is aimed at protecting the state exchange and residents’ access to health insurance regardless of the future of the Affordable Care Act. Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a major challenge to that law, also known as Obamacare. 

“It does absolutely no good to have an insurance plan if you can’t afford to use it,” Lujan Grisham said. “This will have a meaningful impact on insuring New Mexicans more comprehensively.”

Also on the signing docket for Wednesday was House Bill 292, which puts a limit on co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses for insulin, and Senate Bill 131, which raises the legal age to buy cigarettes and e-cigarettes to 21.

The governor had strong words for drug manufacturers that have increased costs for insulin.

“It is outrageous and disgusting and this is the way we fight back to an industry that makes record profits on the backs of very sick individuals and families,” she said. “States all over the country should follow our lead and do exactly what we’re doing.”

House Bill 292 makes out-of-pocket expenses for insulin in New Mexico the lowest in the country, capping them at $25 per prescription for a 30-day supply.