New Mexico Governor Announces Universal Health Insurance Coverage Plan

Armen Hareyan's picture

Presidential candidate New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) on Thursday announced a health care proposal that aims to increase the number of insured state residents, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports (Terrell [1], Santa Fe New Mexican,10/26). Under the proposal, the state would phase in a requirement thatpeople obtain private health coverage, enroll in a state-subsidizedprogram or provide documentation showing they have sufficient financialresources to afford health care expenses out of pocket. Some residents,primarily those who are able to afford coverage, would be required tostart showing proof of coverage beginning in 2010, such as when theyrenew a driver's license.


In addition, the proposal wouldrequire employers with six or more workers to pay into a state-runfund, with the payments offset by the amount that an employercontributes to coverage for its employees.

The proposal wouldcreate the New Mexico Health Care Coverage Authority, which wouldadminister most of the health care mandates and oversee decisions onbenefits and eligibility. Richardson's proposal also would increase theuse of electronic claims and health records to improve quality of care,control costs and reduce errors (Terrell [2], Santa Fe New Mexican, 10/26).

Inmaterials released during the announcement of the proposal, theRichardson administration said, "Cost is not the only criteria fordetermining the best approach to achieve universal coverage for NewMexicans. The governor has consistently stated that he will not supportany type of system that does not have a role for the private insurancemarket. He believes that it would be too disruptive to eliminate theirrole" (Terrell [1], Santa Fe New Mexican, 10/26).

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