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State Health Officials Seek Medicaid Changes

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Kevin Meerschaert via Zoom
Acting HSD Secretary Dr. David Scarse addresses members of the Legislative Finance Committee during a meeting Wednesday in Taos Ski Valley

Medicaid costs and usage is on the rise in New Mexico but some eligible children are not getting the help they need. State health officials are asking lawmakers to clear up the process.           

According to a report by the New Mexico Human Services Department total medicaid spending has increased by 50-percent since fiscal year 2017.

But one trend state health department officials say they find very disturbing is that 52-percent of children enrolled in Medicaid are being disenrolled and then re-enrolled in a 12 month period.   

The reason is that their parents aren’t getting the updated paperwork completed in time and other bureaucratic problems.

It’s been pointed to as one of the reasons New Mexico ranks near the bottom nationwide in many child health indicators.

Acting HSD Secretary Dr. David Scarse says they are recommending a continuous enrollment in Medicare services for children up to the age of six.

“We think this is a really smart intervention to keep kids enrolled, to reduce barriers to parents bringing their kids back in, for immunizations and well child checks and the like,” he said. “We think this will actually move the needle on even more of some of the metrics you (lawmakers) are already reviewing ands also will move us up that list in terms of quality care and other aspects of service for kids in New Mexico.”                       

And while the nation is still officially under a COVID health emergency, it appears likely that will end in January.

When that happens the emergency funding that has been coming from the federal government will come to an end. So the state will have to decide what programs related to COVID will continue with state funding.

Kevin Meerschaert comes to Santa Fe from Jacksonville, Florida where he spent the past 20 years covering politics, government and pretty much everything else.