New Mexico’s Medicaid program will cost state taxpayers an additional $63 million next year, but not necessarily because more people are signing up.
The federal government is scaling back the share it pays to cover many New Mexicans under the health insurance program. New Mexico’s enrollment included 829,421 people at the end of October, a 3 percent decline from a year earlier.
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez in 2013 expanded access to Medicaid under then-President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Though the federal government still covers most of the state’s costs for adults who enrolled after the program’s expansion, the act was designed to increase state support over time.
The federal government covered 93 percent of costs this year but will pay 90 percent in the budget year that begins in July.
That alone will cost the state an extra $32.5 million, Human Services Secretary Brent Earnest told legislators this week.
The total cost of the program will rise for other reasons, too, such as the federal government rolling back some financial support for children’s health insurance and rising enrollment.
With all of this, Medicaid’s cost to the state general fund is projected to increase to a total of $997 million in the next fiscal year.
But the state does not anticipate the program will grow much more.
“We see enrollment generally flat,” Earnest said.
Enrollment is expected to be nearly 848,000 by June 2020.
Bond rating agencies as well as fiscal hawks have eyed the program’s expansion with unease.
But, Earnest said, expanding Medicaid has helped significantly reduce the share of New Mexicans without health insurance.
And data from the University of Minnesota show that the share of New Mexicans spending a large portion of their income on medical bills has fallen, too.
Proponents of the expansion say that reducing the share of the population without health coverage is worth it.
“It brings down the cost of the whole health care system when people are getting care,” said Barbara Webber, executive director of the advocacy group Health Action New Mexico.
Still, Martinez’s administration has proposed to implement new premiums and copays for some New Mexicans enrolled in Medicaid. This could offset at least some of the program’s costs to the state.
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