The New Mexico Human Services Department has been considering charging Medicaid recipients copays in an effort to save money from the state’s cash-strapped budget. The proposals were met with strong opposition in public meetings earlier this year. But the state is moving forward with the changes anyway.
A draft plan released by HSD this week says the state’s Medicaid program would also charge fees for missed doctor appointments, and eliminate free vision and dental services for adults, among other things.
Abuko Estrada is with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, one of the groups to oppose the changes.
"For low-income New Mexicans, these changes are going to be devastating," Estrada said. "States that have implemented copays and premiums in the past have seen significant reductions in health care coverage, or individuals losing access to much-needed health care."
Estrada and others say the copays and other changes will shift costs to poor patients and will discourage people from getting medical care. HSD did not respond to KUNM's requests for comment.
The state will hold more public comment on the Medicaid changes next month, then submit the plan to the federal government for approval.
KUNM's Public Health New Mexico project is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the McCune Charitable Foundation. Find more at www.publichealthnm.org.