SANTA FE – New Mexico would study opportunities to allow almost anyone to buy Medicaid health care coverage under a measure approved by the state House of Representatives on Monday.
Lawmakers voted 42-22 to move forward with initial studies about opening up access to Medicaid services for a fee to more people. A Senate vote was still needed to initiate the year-long study by the Legislature and state insurance regulators.
Democratic Rep. Deborah Armstrong says several states are looking at the potential to provide more affordable coverage to consumers through a Medicaid buy-in program.
Any buy-in program would require federal approval or action by Congress, she said. The concept involves redirecting federal subsidies for coverage in the marketplaces created under former President Barack Obama’s health care law to a new category of Medicaid, the program for the poor.
Republican Rep. Larry Larranaga of Albuquerque said he does not see the need for a buy-in program given current private and subsidized insurance options.
Armstrong believes a buy-in option might someday provide new, affordable insurance options to roughly 180,000 state residents who remain without coverage.
“It is not meant for the state to supplement” costs, said Armstrong, the lead House sponsor. “It’s for someone to purchase what we think is more affordable coverage.”