New Mexico moves ahead with health exchange

Associated Press Modified: November 14, 2012 at 6:31 pm •  Published: November 14, 2012
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Martinez doesn't plan to establish a new agency to run the exchange. Instead, the exchange will be operated by the New Mexico Health Insurance Alliance, a nonprofit public corporation established in 1994 to provide access to insurance for small businesses and some individuals. The alliance is funded by an assessment on insurance companies.

The state received a $34 million federal grant for an exchange, with almost $24 million earmarked for a computer system that will be used by uninsured New Mexicans to shop for health plans in the marketplace. The alliance plans to award a contract for the computer system in early January.

Squier said the administration doesn't believe legislation is necessary to implement the exchange because it can be handled through the alliance.

However, the attorney general's office is reviewing whether the Legislature must authorize an exchange and approve changes in law for the alliance to operate it.

"We do have some serious concerns," Phil Sisneros, a spokesman for King, said Wednesday.

Martinez vetoed an exchange proposal approved by the Democratic-controlled Legislature last year. She said the measure was premature.

Sen. Dede Feldman, an Albuquerque Democrat, said the alliance's governing board needs more consumer and employee representation rather than being tilted in favor of the insurance industry. There also are questions whether the alliance's current mission focuses on a much narrower segment of uninsured individuals than the exchange must handle.

Most of the alliance's board is appointed by the governor. House Republican Leader Tom Taylor of Farmington said Martinez can fix any problems by selecting more consumer representatives for the board.

"I think we're in fine shape," said Taylor.

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