Friction Between State Agencies Escalates As Health Exchange Deadlines Near

Jun 17, 2013

Credit zpeckler via Flickr

New details have emerged about changes that were made to a grant proposal the state submitted to the federal government related to the state's Health Insurance Exchange.

KUNM media partner New Mexico In Depth published a story this weekend that digs deep into apparent friction between the state's Insurance Division and the Human Services Department.  KUNM's Elaine Baumgartel spoke with reporter Bryant Furlow and Executive Director of NMID, Trip Jennings.

Human Services Secretary Sidonie Squier was nominated by Governor Susana Martinez. HSD is overseeing the $34 million grant to create New Mexico's Health Insurance Exchange.

The State Insurance Division does not fall under the authority of the governor. Insurance Superintendent John Franchini oversaw a grant proposal for $20 million to fund efforts to make New Mexicans aware of how the Health Exchange will work and whether or not they are eligible.

The grant proposal was taken over by HSD after concerns were expressed by Sect. Squier. The final version eliminated things like a customer complaints bureau, insurance company oversight, and replaced the term "enrollment" with "marketing." (See both versions of the grant proposal.)

Advocates are concerned about HSD having control over both the grants, and about how New Mexicans will get information about the Health Exchange and find out if they are eligible.

Deadlines for the creation of New Mexico's Health Insurance Exchange are creeping closer. Initially, customers were supposed to be able to go online and choose health coverage beginning in October. That deadline is now more likely to be in mid-November, with the plans scheduled to go into effect on January 1st, 2014.