NM health insurance exchange proposal advances

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm •  Published: March 9, 2013
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Rep. Tom Taylor, a Farmington Republican involved in the negotiations, said the bill "has a very good chance of flying" through the Legislature.

A health exchange measure stalled in the House late last month after initially being rejected on a 39-30 vote, with eight Democrats opposing it. The measure was revived but lawmakers haven't attempted to advance it again. Critics said it would overly regulate the health insurance plans that could be offered to New Mexicans.

Instead, the Senate proposal was hammered out.

The legislation creates the framework for an exchange governed by a 13-member board. The state superintendent of insurance is a member. The governor will appoint six board directors and six will be selected by legislative leaders. Among the board members are insurance industry representatives, a consumer advocate and health care provider.

Unlike the House measure, the latest proposal doesn't grant board members the power to exclude health insurance plans from being offered on the exchange if they meet qualifying standards and comply with the federal health care law. The governor wanted a "free market" exchange that will offer all insurance plans meeting basic qualifications.

The governor has taken steps to establish an exchange operated by the New Mexico Health Insurance Alliance, a nonprofit public corporation established in 1994. But Democrats, including Attorney General Gary King, contend the Legislature needs to change state law for the organization to handle duties of the exchange mandated by a federal health care overhaul.

Martinez said the legislation "continues down the road of the exchange structure that we have already begun to implement, which has received conditional approval from the Obama administration."

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