Beginning in 2021, the Health Security Planning and Design Board will be responsible for the initial phase of designing the Health Security Plan. This plan would automatically provide secure, guaranteed, comprehensive health care coverage for most New Mexicans, regardless of income level or health and employment status. Plan members will have freedom of choice of health care provider and hospital (no more networks), including across state lines.
Passing the Health Security Planning and Design bill this legislative session will make New Mexico the first state to create its own universal health plan. Three studies (the most recent in 2020) have concluded that the Health Security Plan will slow the rate of ever-escalating health care costs and save hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars within its first five years of operation.
The Plan mirrors the state employees’ benefit package, which includes mental and behavioral health care coverage—and we all know how important that is, especially since COVID-19.
Now the time has come to roll up our sleeves and create the critical design elements that must be in place prior to the start-up of the Plan. The design process will require lots of public input, so your involvement is very important. The legislation that is being introduced in 2021 specifies how this process will be accomplished.
While the 2019 Health Security Act described guidelines to be followed when developing the Health Security Plan, there are many specific decisions that need to be made. For example, how providers and health facilities will be paid, how the bulk purchasing of drugs program will function, how the appeals system will work for consumers, providers, and health facilities, and many, many more.
The 2021 Health Security Planning and Design legislation requires a publicly accountable and transparent process through which the needed design decisions will be made and those provisions put in place so that enrollment in the Plan can begin. Public input will be sought, advisory committees will be created, and consultants will be hired during this critical process.
As part of the careful approach to developing the detailed elements of the Plan, the bill includes two critical steps:
Step 1: Creation of a Health Security Planning and Design Board whose members will have various areas of expertise (health policy, management, finance, systems design, etc.). The board will be tasked with beginning to make decisions about key Health Security Plan design elements, following the guidelines described in the 2019 Health Security Act. The legislature will then be asked to approve Step 2.
Step 2: Creation of a geographically and demographically representative Health Security Plan Commission consisting of consumers, business owners, health care providers, and health facility representatives. This commission, which will be responsible for administering the Plan, will complete the final design elements, conduct a cost analysis of the Plan as designed, and finally seek legislative and executive approval so Plan enrollment can begin.
It will take an estimated four years to work out all the details. A lot of careful planning and decisions need to be made to ensure that this innovative solution performs smoothly from the start.
More than ever, we need your active involvement—starting today—so that Health Security will become a reality for New Mexico. Please contact your legislators and ask for their support at www.nmlegis.gov.
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