June 11, 2009
During this past legislative session, which ended March 21, 2009, the New Mexico Legislature (Legislature) passed fifty-three legislative memorials concerning healthcare. Unlike legislative bills, which implement changes in programs and policies, memorials charge an identified state agency with studying and then reporting on the information requested in the memorial. The state agency presents the information to a legislative committee prior to an upcoming legislative session. The Legislature can then opt to use the information to develop legislative bills.
House Joint Memorial 57 authorizes the study of a voluntary health insurance exchange (Exchange). The Exchange's purpose is to provide individuals and employers with greater access to healthcare and greater choice, portability, and affordability of health insurance products. The memorial defines an Exchange as a clearinghouse that facilitates the purchase of health insurance by individuals but does not function as a regulator or purchaser. The Exchange would collect, consolidate, and forward premium payments to insurance companies on behalf of individuals, families, and participating employers who can designate the Exchange as their group health benefit plan administrator. A report is due to the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee by November 1, 2009.
House Joint Memorial 7 continues the work of the task force studying obstetric healthcare practitioner liability insurance and expands the scope of the task force to include review of evidence-based maternity care and its impact on clinical outcomes and liability issues. Task force participants are charged with preparing a report for the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee by November 2009.
House Memorial 130 (HM 130) looks at the economic impact of alcohol abuse in New Mexico. This memorial cites several studies in other states finding that the economic costs associated with alcohol abuse are in the billions of dollars annually. HM 130 charges the New Mexico Department of Health with conducting an annual comprehensive study of the economic and human costs of alcohol use in New Mexico. The first study will analyze data from 2005-2007, and address the indirect and direct costs to New Mexico of alcohol use and abuse including lives lost, crime, and healthcare costs associated with alcohol use. A report is due to the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee by November 1, 2009.
Senate Joint Memorial 1 asks the New Mexico Health Policy Commission to convene a meeting of public entities engaged in the administration, delivery, and payment of healthcare services in New Mexico. The purpose is to identify common areas of interest and opportunities for consolidation. The memorial acknowledges that many plans and programs exist to address the overall health needs of New Mexico, and that there are similar elements in those plans and programs that could benefit from a consolidated and efficient approach. The New Mexico Health Policy Commission is charged with presenting specific recommendations to the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee by November 2009.
Several healthcare bills were introduced but failed to pass this past sixty-day legislative session. Two bills targeting health insurers were introduced but did not pass. House Bill 110 would require health insurance companies to provide coverage to anyone who wants to buy insurance without regard to a person's prior health history. House Bill 111 would require that health insurers licensed in New Mexico pay for reimbursements for direct services at a rate not less than 85% of premiums collected over all product lines. Likewise, the Health Security Act (House Bill 339), which would have required healthcare coverage for all New Mexicans through a combination of public and private financing, was introduced but did not pass.
The Electronic Medical Records Act (Senate Bill 278 or the Act) was introduced, passed, and signed into law on April 2, 2009. The Act provides for the use, disclosure, and protection of electronic medical records. The Act provides that electronic medical records and the electronic signatures therein satisfy any requirements for written medical records, signatures pertaining to medical records, or the retention of medical records. The Act prohibits the use and disclosure of healthcare information in a person's electronic medical record without the consent of the individual except as authorized by state or federal law. The Act addresses the disclosure of information to a record locator service as defined by the Act.
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*We would like to thank Caroline Blankenship, Esquire (Blankenship Health Law LLC, Albuquerque, NM) for providing this synopsis.
The Healthcare Reform Educational Task Force is a joint endeavor of the Healthcare Liability and Litigation; Hospitals and Health Systems; In-House Counsel; Payors, Plans, and Managed Care; Physician Organizations; Regulation, Accreditation, and Payment; and Teaching Hospitals and Academic Medical Centers Practice Groups.