Senate Democrats Blast What They Call A Major Change To Medicaid
New Mexico – New Mexico Senate leaders expressed concern following the recent revelation that the Human Service Department (HSD) issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to "substantially change" the structure of New Mexico's Medicaid program without reaching out to the public or legislature before its issuance.
"I am troubled that the Martinez administration intends to change the structure of Medicaid which is about a $4 billion program in New Mexico without advance notice to the public or the legislature," said Senate Pro Tem Timothy Z. Jennings (D-Chaves, Eddy, Lincoln & Otero-32). "Many states face the same dilemma as New Mexico: how do we meet the demand for services when revenues for funding have decreased? But other states have had extensive public debate over the issue. The manner in which this RFP has been carried out does not lend itself to full disclosure or transparency and erodes public trust in government," he added.
The vice-chair of the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee, Sen. Dede Feldman (D-Bernalillo-13), is also disturbed about the lack of communication and opportunity for collaboration between the administration and the legislature. "I am not opposed to Medicaid reform. In 2002, when our state was having financial difficulties, a process was established by the executive and legislative branches that allowed the public to take an active role in the development of reform.
Legislation was then introduced and passed in an open and democratic process. Unfortunately, this is not the case today," said Sen. Feldman. "The RFP went out to bid on March 14; session ended on March 19. Governor Martinez did not indicate she was considering such a drastic reform of Medicaid either before or during the legislative session. Since we were all in the same building, it would have been timely to bring the issue forward while in session."
Medicaid stakeholders including recipients, providers and family members of recipients have also expressed concern about the lack of information coming from the administration on reforming New Mexico's Medicaid program. "Although Governor Martinez has said she campaigned to bring people to the process, that doesn't seem to be the case with the RFP. The lack of transparency is evident," said Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez (D-Valencia-29). "Many people's lives are totally dependent on the decisions made through Medicaid. When they call to ask me questions about the restructuring of Medicaid, I can only tell them we have not been provided with any information that can give them the answers they need and deserve to know. I'm not sure when the people of our state will be brought into this process."