State Takes Another Step Toward Centennial Care

Feb 8, 2013

Credit Parker Dennison

The New Mexico Human Services Department has announced the selection of four, new Centennial Care Managed Care Organizations responsible for providing healthcare to nearly 600,000 New Mexicans.

Medicaid is the public health insurance program for low-income people which currently serves about 560,000 New Mexicans, and will expand to include about 170,000 more come 2014. Centennial Care is the new name for New Mexico’s Medicaid program.

“Quite frankly we probably could not expand Medicaid in the state unless we had Centennial Care,” says Matt Kennicott, Communications Director for the New Mexico Human Services Department. “Centennial Care really re-shapes the face of Medicaid and quite frankly the structure of Medicaid in the state.”

Under Centennial Care, all Medicaid enrollees in the state will have to enroll in one of four plans to receive care – much like choosing an insurance company. The state has announced those plans will be run by four, private companies: UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of New Mexico, Blue Cross Blue Shield New Mexico, Molina Health Care of New Mexico, Inc, and Presbyterian Health Plan, Inc

If you’re a Medicaid user, or may be Medicaid eligible in 2014, you can pick from one of those four companies to be your health provider. Once you pick the plan you want, the state will assign a “care coordinator” to you to make sure you get the care you need, are educated about what’s available to you, and that you’re getting to the doctor - then whichever company you chose will take care of the rest.

“Centennial care, will get people the right care at the right time at the right setting,” says Kennicott. “That goes back to the care coordination and it’ll help people, we think, lead more healthy lives if they’re on the Medicaid program.”

Proponents of Centennial Care say that the plan will lower costs and provide better health outcomes for the states Medicaid enrollees.

Opponents say the plan will limit access in rural and tribal areas of the state. They also say that data on these sorts of programs have shown mixed results, and that it may be a conflict of interest for New Mexico since profits made by providers over 3% must be split between the company and the state.