U.S. House passes bill to protect contraception access

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday by a 228 to 195 vote that would codify the right to contraception into law, but its future in the U.S. Senate is uncertain. All Democrats in the House voted in support of the bill. Most Republicans opposed it, but eight voted in favor. HR 8373, would codify into law the right to contraception and the right of healthcare providers to provide it and information about it. When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last month, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a concurring dissenting opinion stating that all rights based on the 14th Amendment’s right to privacy, including the right to contraception, should be revisited by the court.

White House approves New Mexico expansion of Medicaid postpartum care

Vice President Kamala Harris announced on Thursday the expansion of postpartum Medicaid coverage for New Mexico and a few other states. The federal government made changes to Medicaid rules last year, which allowed states to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage from two months to 12. New Mexico began working last year to make the rule change and implemented the expansion by April 1. The expansion means that about 5,000 women in New Mexico will be able to access 12 months of postpartum care through Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program. Harris said during her remarks that the federal government was formally approving the expansion for New Mexico as well as for the District of Columbia, Maine and Minnesota.

A new healthcare poll finds that a majority of New Mexicans have put off medical visits due to cost

A new poll found that one in two New Mexicans didn’t seek medical care in the past two years due to the cost. Nearly a quarter of New Mexicans said they’d experienced discomfort or pain because they could not afford the cost. Of the respondents, 36 percent said they skipped dental care due to cost. Another 29 percent delayed visiting a doctor or procedure and 26 percent avoided visiting a doctor or procedure altogether because of the expense. Alex Williams, healthcare policy advocate for New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, told NM Political Report that currently, there are 200,000 individuals in New Mexico who lack access to healthcare.

State expands postpartum Medicaid coverage to 12 months

The New Mexico Human Services Department will expand postpartum Medicaid availability to 12 months of coverage starting Friday. The agency began efforts this past winter to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage to 12 months with a target date of April 1. The state is able to expand the coverage from two months to 12 months due to recent changes in federal law that allows the state to change how it asks for Medicaid dollars. The expansion will continue for five years. After that, the federal government will decide to continue to allow the expansion.

Congressional bill would increase prepartum and postpartum Medicaid coverage 

A bill before the U.S. House of Representatives would increase the rates of federal government reimbursement for Medicaid coverage for women during both prepartum and postpartum care. U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury, a Democrat representing New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, is a cosponsor on the bill and introduced the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives last week. Stansbury told NM Political Report that the Advancing Maternal Health Equity Under Medicaid Act is important legislation for New Mexico because 72 percent of births in the state are covered by Medicaid. She said that if the bill passes both chambers of Congress and is signed into law by President Joe Biden, Medicaid coverage in New Mexico would expand to include 90 percent of maternal health both before and after a birth. “I think one of the things that it’s important to understand in general about health care accessibility in New Mexico is so many folks in New Mexico struggle economically.

Early Childhood Education and Care Department details fiscal plan and hopes for next four years

The New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department released its first four-year fiscal plan, detailing what the department needs in order to deliver high-quality early childhood education and services. The ECECD held a virtual press conference on Wednesday to detail the new plan. Some of the highlights include increasing childhood educator and staff wages and expanding access to PreK for more children. The department projected next fiscal year’s expenses to be $505,883,920 which is expected to serve 27,479 children. The department projects its budget request will increase to $943,289,473 and serve 47,091 children in three years and FY26 will be $943,289,473 and the department anticipates serving .

Crisis pregnancy centers are a public health danger, according to a report

Crisis pregnancy centers, which have proliferated in recent years, could be a public health danger to pregnant individuals, according to a recent report. A national coalition of reproductive health experts called The Alliance: State Advocates for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, produced a report in the fall of 2021 detailing crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), which reproductive health experts often refer to as “fake clinics.”

More than 90 percent of CPCs located in New Mexico are operated by one of three Christian-affiliated organizations: Heartbeat International, Care Net, and Birthright International. CPCs offer some basic, nonmedical services for pregnant people but are intentionally designed to lure unsuspecting pregnant individuals into their offices to prevent abortions, reproductive health experts have said.  

According to the report, CPCs use “deceptive, coercive tactics and medical disinformation and misleadingly present themselves as medical facilities.”

Birthright International and Care Net did not respond to repeated requests for comment, but Andrea Trudden, vice president of communications and marketing for Heartbeat International said through an email that “many of the claims made within this report are the exact same talking points that abortion activists have put out there for decades.” She added that Heartbeat International maintains a website designed to specifically “respond to many of the claims” the authors of the report make.  

Trudden disagreed with the report’s claims and said through email that pregnancy centers adhere to a national code of ethics called, “Our Commitment of Care and Competence” (CCC), which addresses the vital importance of truthfulness in communications.”

CPCs are located in buildings or mobile units, usually near an abortion clinic in urban areas although they proliferate most often in rural counties where there is a lack of care, health experts have said. They go by a variety of different names that often appear to mimic or resemble the names of abortion care providers, according to the report. But they are not actual health clinics and most lack professional medical providers on their staff.

How Mariposa Fund helps undocumented people access abortions

Medicaid covers the cost of abortion in New Mexico if the pregnant person is a legal resident. But undocumented people who reside in the state, many of whom are often vulnerable, lack Medicaid coverage to pay for abortion care, said Italia Aranda, a volunteer with Mariposa Fund. The fund helps undocumented pregnant people pay for an abortion. The fund came out of a need that a group of abortion providers in New Mexico recognized in 2016. “In order for a patient to receive money from Mariposa Fund, they have to seek services in New Mexico.

Payday too late: New Mexico bungled payday for hundreds of Medicaid caregivers

ALBUQUERQUE — Nearly every day for the past ten months, Lina, 23, has worked as a personal care assistant for Lisa Langrehr, a 60-year-old woman who is paralyzed on her right side. It’s been a full-time job for Lina — from 8 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon, seven days a week, she’s helped Langrehr take showers, accompanied her to and from medical appointments, paid the bills, done the laundry, walked Blacky the dachshund, and cooked meatloaf and enchiladas. 

“Without caregivers, I don’t survive, I don’t survive at all,” Langrehr said. She’s been receiving in-home care services since 2013, when she fell in her kitchen and broke her neck. A cadre of three caregivers work in shifts, paid for through Medicaid. Lina, who requested her last name not be published to protect future employment opportunities, usually made about $800 every two weeks.

U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday over Texas v. California, in which the state of Texas argued that the entire Affordable Care Act should be rendered unconstitutional. This is not the first time the Supreme Court has heard cases brought against the ACA. But it is the first case against the ACA with three Trump Administration appointees: Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Barrett, the most junior justice, has been openly critical of the ACA in her legal writings. President-elect Joe Biden spoke after the hearings, calling the case “cruel and needlessly divisive.”

Texas brought the case arguing that more Texas residents have applied for Medicaid due to the ACA.