During her state of the state address on Tuesday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham told legislators that one of her legislative priorities is a request for an additional $100 million for the Rural Health Care Delivery Fund.
During the 2023 legislative session, the state allocated $80 million for grants to help healthcare providers expand services in rural communities. The providers had to expand services in counties with fewer than 100,000 individuals living in them.
Lujan Grisham announced the awards last fall and early winter.
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As part of her health care package, Lujan Grisham announced additional Medicaid funding. Bill Jordan, interim co-director and government relations officer for New Mexico Voices for Children, told NM Political Report that if Medicaid is not fully funded, providers receive less or providers cut back on medical services or providers cut back on the number of patients served under Medicaid if the program isn’t fully funded.
“Those are three really bad choices,” Jordan said.
Jordan said Lujan Grisham’s budget asks for a significant increase in Medicaid to increase provider reimbursement rates. He said the state has significantly raised Medicaid reimbursement rates over the last few legislative sessions. He said the industry is very competitive and he said the provider shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic created a “wake-up call.”
Jordan said New Mexico Voices for Children supports Lujan Grisham’s budget proposal for Medicaid which includes $87.9 million for Medicaid provider rate increases to 150 percent for maternal/child health, primary care, and behavioral health. Jordan said about 75 percent of children living in New Mexico are on Medicaid. He said the number of individuals on Medicaid is higher in rural areas than in urban ones. In some rural parts of the state, 90 percent of the children living in those areas are on Medicaid.
Jordan said Medicaid is also an enormous economic driver in rural New Mexico.
“There are a lot of rural towns and counties where the healthcare jobs are the best jobs. They’re the best paying, the most stable, so if the local hospital or healthcare providers aren’t there, and aren’t as robust, that really impacts the local economy,” Jordan said. “Rural New Mexico is disproportionately impacted by Medicaid because it’s so reliant on Medicaid.”
Lujan Grisham also mentioned wanting a Hospital Provider Tax, which she said would bring an additional $1.5 billion to $2 billion to the state. She also encouraged completing the Health Care Authority this session, which she said would lower costs for consumers.Lujan Grisham did not mention the Paid Family and Medical Leave bill in her state of the state address, although bill sponsor Senate Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, told NM Political Report that the bill has the support of the governor.