Democrats plan bill for state-run health exchange

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 21, 2013 at 4:53 pm •  Published: January 21, 2013
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Attorney General Gary King issued a legal opinion to lawmakers last month saying the state law governing the alliance "does not contain the necessary legal authority to establish a New Mexico exchange that comports with federal law.

The alliance's board, mostly appointed by the governor, is made up of insurance company officials, small employers and workers, but King's office said state law doesn't prohibit the insurance industry from having majority control of the board — a prohibition required under federal law. There also are conflicts between state and federal laws over which small employers could be eligible to obtain health insurance coverage and whether insurance companies could deny coverage because of a worker's preexisting health condition.

Martinez spokesman Greg Blair said the governor will review any exchange legislation proposed this session.

"As the governor has said, her job is to create a health insurance exchange that is tailor-made for New Mexico, rather than the one-size-fits-all approach from Washington, D.C.," Blair said. "She has been working on creating such an exchange for more than a year and believes it is best done through the Health Insurance Alliance."

Ortiz y Pino said lawmakers need to act as soon as possible this session because the alliance is preparing to select contractors to manage implementation of the exchange and to create a computer system for it to operate. He held out hope of reaching a compromise with the administration.

"We think there are ways of finding a middle ground where consumer interests can be protected while using the expertise of the insurance industry, but not simply saying, 'OK, insurance industry, you run this for us,'" Ortiz y Pino said.

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