UPDATE: Exchange board chairman J.R Damron said Monday that New Mexico will focus on having a state-run insurance exchange ready for small businesses this fall and will use a federally operated exchange to offer insurance coverage to individuals for the next year.
He said a "hybrid" approach to the exchange was necessary because the state didn't have enough time to implement its own computer system to serve individuals by a looming federal deadline.
New Mexicans will be able to purchase insurance through a portal that combines state and federal access to plans in a hybrid healthcare insurance exchange. Members of the exchange board took steps to get the program up and running by this fall.
The 13-member board chose a hybrid approach to set up the health insurance exchange by the October deadline five months from now, and awarded a nearly $40-million dollar contract to the IT company GetInsured. The company will build the website customers will use to select their plans on the exchange. The state also has a $6-million grant from the federal government to conduct public outreach.
Barbara Webber, head of Health Action New Mexico, says this effort is paramount. “And what I’d like to urge you to consider is that consumers can be partners in all of this; even the consumers who are out in remote communities. If we engage them as part of this process," Webber added, "that they can be a force for managing all the different glitches and transitions and come up with some very important information that will make this a stronger process.”
The Health Insurance Exchange board also named Mike Nunez as chief executive officer – Nunez previously served as director of the Health Insurance Alliance – an organization established 14 years ago to provide small businesses with insurance plans. Although several of the Insurance Exchange board members are insurance providers, the board is required to follow strong conflict of interest policies.