New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange Still In Question

May 15, 2013

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — States aiming to run their own health insurance exchanges will be in need of federal grants to get those exchanges launched, and are facing a deadline. New Mexico's application is in, but there's still a question of whether or not the exchange will be run by the state, the federal government, or both.

New Mexico's federal grant request totals about $20 million, and will be used for marketing, public relations, and outreach. With much of the state's population living in rural areas, that outreach will be critical to the exchange's survival.

More than 20 percent of New Mexicans currently lack any form of health insurance. That is more than 415,000 people, and it's estimated that half of that population could be enrolled in the state's health exchange by the end of the decade, or face tax penalties. The rest of the state's uninsured population will qualify for Medicare or the state's expanded Medicaid program.

But with exchanges required to be up and running nationally by Oct. 1, New Mexico's Insurance Exchange chair, JR Damron, says he's not sure the state can do that on its own.

In light of that short timeline, Damron expects New Mexico to soon have a final proposal for the federal government on whether to adopt a hybrid, state or federal health exchange model.

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