RFP Posted, and Remembering Sen. Carlos Cisneros

We are pleased to report that the Legislative Finance Committee has posted its Request for Proposals (RFP) for those consultants who want to apply to conduct the fiscal analysis of the Health Security Act. Proposals are due October 16.

As you know, the legislature and the governor approved funding for this project. This crucial step was a great victory for the Campaign. At a time when so many are frustrated that politicians are not listening to them, our state legislature and the governor heard your voices.

But now, we must report some devastating news.

Senator Carlos Cisneros, our longtime, dedicated Health Security sponsor, died suddenly of a suspected heart attack on Tuesday morning. He was the Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

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While Sen. Cisneros was greatly occupied with state budget concerns, as well as the issues expressed by the constituents of his geographically large district, he always wanted to take the time to be the key senate Health Security Act sponsor--a role he played for 14 years. He managed to be there for critical legislative hearings even though he was immensely tied up in Senate Finance Committee business. He understood how significant the Health Security Act was to our state and provided astute insights and suggestions on the bill based on his years of legislative experience. The Health Security Act is a better bill because of him.

It is also because of Sen. Cisneros that there is funding for the fiscal analysis of the Health Security Plan.

As you are aware, oil and gas revenues were greater than projected in the proposed state budget (House Bill 2) up for approval this past legislative session. A supplemental budget (House Bill 2 Junior) was subsequently introduced. Because of the extra revenue, each legislator would receive a set amount of dollars that could be spent in any way they chose, and HB2 Junior would contain those requested allocations.

Our executive director, Mary Feldblum, describes the situation when rumors were floating around about HB2 Junior during the last few weeks of the session:

"Carlos called me into his office. He felt that Junior was our opportunity to get the fiscal analysis funding--a much safer route than going through HB2 (the state budget). He immediately asked me to talk to the Legislative Council Service's Junior bill drafter to make sure that any Junior fiscal analysis request language made it very clear that the legislator's requested funds would go to the Legislative Finance Committee and could only be used to conduct a fiscal analysis of Health Security. He did not want any ambiguity about the purpose of these funds.

As a result, I spoke to several legislators about their willingness to dedicate some of their allotted funds to take this crucial step for Health Security. Our original budget request for the fiscal analysis was $375,000. Carlos dedicated part of his share to the study. Reps. Bill Pratt, Bobby Gonzales, and Gail Chasey contributed as well. Others were also willing to contribute, but when it became clear that $389,000 had been allocated for this study, we knew we had more than achieved our goal.

Carlos was so excited about this development. In fact, as I was trying to talk to legislators about donating some of their allocated funds to the fiscal analysis, he would text me and want to know the latest totals.

After the session ended, we were in constant communication about the RFP process. It is so heartrending that he died the same day the RFP became public. How pleased he would have been."

We have lost a great friend and a critical voice on the Legislative Finance Committee--a voice that would have helped to ensure that the LFC-selected consultants provide a thorough and quality analysis. We take comfort in knowing that the fiscal analysis that he helped to make possible is moving forward.

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End-of-Summer Update

As we approach the end of summer, we wanted to share just a sample of what we've been doing lately around the state.

Last weekend, our executive director, Mary Feldblum, headed down to Las Cruces for an intensive weekend of well-attended workshops—a bill workshop (with a bonus messaging component) on Saturday, and a fiscal analysis workshop on Sunday.

Learning about the fiscal analysis process in Las Cruces

Learning about the fiscal analysis process in Las Cruces

More workshops are being planned, with the next one scheduled for Santa Fe in September. Let us know if you are interested!

While Mary was in Las Cruces, Tyler Taylor, a recently retired primary care physician who sits on the Health Security board, and Dana Millen, our education and outreach coordinator, set up shop at the Valencia County Fair in Belen.

Tyler and Dana by the Health Security table at the fair

Tyler and Dana by the Health Security table at the fair

They had good conversations with fairgoers, and some new folks signed up for our Health Security email alerts. Welcome!

Tyler and other volunteers will be tabling at similar events around the state. We need to keep educating New Mexicans about the Health Security Plan!

In the past few months, we've also monitored interim legislative committee meetings, been in touch with the Legislative Finance Committee staff (who are hard at work finishing up the "request for proposals" to undertake the fiscal analysis of the Health Security Plan), and communicated with the governor's office and legislators. Lots to do!

Health Care Roundtable & Other Updates

Health Care Roundtable with Congresswoman Deb Haaland

On June 15, two physician supporters of the Health Security Act—Dr. Taylor Tyler (far right) and Dr. Bill Ulwelling (far left)—participated in a roundtable discussion organized by US Rep. Deb Haaland (center right).

The event, called Tackling New Mexico's Healthcare Challenges, focused on how to increase access to health care in New Mexico, recruiting more health care professionals to our state, the opioid crisis, and lowering prescription drug prices, among other issues.

We thank Dr. Taylor and Dr. Ulwelling for representing the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign at the roundtable and for contributing to this very important discussion!

Panelists at the Tackling New Mexico's Healthcare Challenges roundtable discussion with Congresswoman Deb Haaland, June 15, 2019.  Photo © Dana Millen.

Panelists at the Tackling New Mexico's Healthcare Challenges roundtable discussion with Congresswoman Deb Haaland, June 15, 2019. Photo © Dana Millen.

Legislature & Fiscal Analysis

As you know, the New Mexico legislature is finally looking closely at the Health Security Plan (yay!). In order to complete the Health Security fiscal analysis called for in House Memorial 92 and funded by the legislature, the Legislative Finance Committee needs to select expert consultants.

The Legislative Finance Committee expects to request proposals from expert consultants by the end of June or beginning of July. The chosen consultant will then begin to gather the information needed to undertake the analysis.

Health Security Workshops

With two successful workshops held in Albuquerque—on messaging and the fiscal analysis process—under our belt, we're working on scheduling additional workshops in other parts of the state for July, August, and into the fall.

Health Care in the News

Health Insurance Prices Soaring

The health insurance inflation rate hit a five-year peak in April, according to Modern Healthcare. While costs for professional services, hospital services, and medical care services stayed about the same or even lowered, health insurance premiums and profits shot up.

Health Insurance Prices Rising Faster
Unadjusted percentage change from previous year

Our favorite quote from the article:

"Health insurance profits have been on the rise. The eight largest publicly traded insurers posted net income of $9.3 billion in the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 29.9%. They made a combined $21.9 billion in profits over the course of 2018."


New Mexico Scorecard

The Commonwealth Fund has released its latest health scorecard for New Mexico. Overall, we rank 35th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia. While we're not Mississippi, which once again ranked last, there's definitely room for improvement!

Some details: We rank 50th in the nation for employee insurance costs as a share of median income, and 48th for the percentage of adults without all recommended cancer screenings. Some other health indicators in the state are more promising

Lots of information to dig into here! (Click on the image above to see the full scorecard.)

A Win . . . and What's Next

Celebrating a Win

The 2019 legislative session was a game changer for everyone involved in the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign. 

For years, the Health Security Act laid out a simple "look before you leap" approach:

  1. Complete a fiscal analysis of the Health Security Plan.

  2. If the numbers look good, proceed with implementation of the Plan. 

Because the NM legislature set aside funding to complete a fiscal analysis of the Health Security Plan, we now move into phase 1 of this process!

This 2019 legislative session brought one surprise after another, but the end result moves us forward exactly as actually passing the Health Security Act would have done.

What's Next?

It might be tempting to stop right here and savor this huge step forward for a while. But too many people still don't know about the Health Security proposal.

While the Legislative Finance Committee* is overseeing the fiscal analysis, we'll be busy educating more and more New Mexicans about the Health Security Plan. If you're part of an organization that might be interested in learning about Health Security, please let us know. And, of course, please keep talking about the Health Security Plan to people you meet!

Once we know more about the fiscal analysis process, we'll keep you updated on that, along with the Legislative Finance Committee's meetings, which are open to the public.

We'll also keep you updated on the latest health care developments at the state and national levels. While we were concentrating on the legislature last week, the White House released a new budget calling for deep cuts to the US Health & Human Services Department and for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion, which has been responsible for dramatically reducing the number of uninsured New Mexicans.

* What is the Legislative Finance Committee? The LFC is a committee made up of senators and representatives from both parties that meets periodically while the legislature is not in session. Because it's bipartisan and bicameral, both political parties and both houses of the legislature have a role. The LFC will likely contract with outside experts to undertake the actual analysis. 

Keep Health Security Going!

We’ve accomplished a lot in the last year, but there’s still more to do! Please support this important work with your donation today.

HM 92 Passes House!

This evening, House Memorial 92 easily passed the House floor. There was no debate on the memorial, and the vote was 46-18:

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The memorial was introduced earlier this week by Health Security Act sponsors Reps. Bobby Gonzales and Gail Chasey. It requests the Legislative Finance Committee (an interim committee made up of both senators and representatives) to conduct a fiscal analysis of the Health Security Plan.

With the funding to complete the fiscal analysis already in the budget bills, this memorial simply provides additional guidance to the Legislative Finance Committee and makes it known that the NM House is in favor of costing out Health Security!   

House Memorial 92

Now, a Memorial (the Legislative Kind!)

A memorial about the Health Security Plan (House Memorial 92) was introduced this afternoon in the House by Reps. Bobby Gonzales and Gail Chasey, who are also sponsors of the Health Security Act (HB 295).

While a memorial requests an action rather than requires it, our legislative supporters feel it is important for the House to make a statement about the importance of the Health Security Plan and the need for the fiscal analysis. 

The memorial makes it clear that the Legislative Finance Committee is to undertake this analysis as described in HB 295 and SB 279. As noted yesterday, the actual appropriations for the fiscal analysis are in the budget bills.

HM 92 was assigned to the House Appropriations & Finance Committee and was quickly heard by the committee following the House floor session. The memorial passed House Appropriations & Finance on a unanimous vote (yay!) and should be reported out on the House floor tonight.

What's Next?

After being reported out of committee, HM 92 will be placed on the House floor calendar. If we're lucky, the memorial will be heard tomorrow.  

So what's next? First, we want to stop right here and thank all of our incredible supporters. You've been there every step of the way--making calls, asking your friends and networks to call, waiting for hearings, waiting some more for hearings, and telling legislators why you want Health Security to move forward. 

We are so grateful for your support, day in and day out. And it really has made a difference! 

Funding the Fiscal Analysis

As we reported in the last post, the money is in the budget for the Legislative Finance Committee to complete a fiscal analysis of the Health Security Plan. (The Legislative Finance Committee is a legislative committee made up of senators and representatives that meets outside of the legislative session.)

The two supplemental budget bills have now been officially approved by their respective committees, and the House bill (HB 548) has already been passed by the full House. 

HB 548 has $275,000 allocated for a fiscal analysis of the Health Security Plan, and the Senate bill (SB 536) has $114,000. That's a total of $389,000!

HB 548:

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SB 536:

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This is a huge achievement! Remember, the original 2019 Health Security Act called for an appropriation of $375,000 for the Legislative Finance Committee to oversee a fiscal analysis to make sure the Health Security Plan is economically viable. 

The Health Security Plan itself could not get enacted until the 2021 legislative session--when, with the fiscal analysis in hand, the legislature would need to vote to move forward with setting up the Plan.
With the legislature, nothing is ever certain, but at this point it looks as though we're on track with finally getting the fiscal analysis of the Health Security Plan completed.

Bottom line: There's more than one way to get things done!

Update on Both Houses

With one week to go in the legislative session, this is where we’re at:

Senate Bill 279

SB 279 is still in the Senate Judiciary Committee and is once again on the agenda, for Monday, March 11. The committee will meet in Room 321 after the Senate floor session ends.

There's so much going on, and we know it's very frustrating to take the time to come to the committee meetings and sit for hours without the bill being heard. 

If it's convenient for you to come on Monday (and wait!), please do so. Otherwise, at this point in the session, it's probably more important for the bill to be heard quickly than for the committee to hear lots of testimony in person. Thanks to all your phone calls, the Senate Judiciary Committee knows very well how much public support this bill has! 

House Bill 295

House Bill 295 was tabled last week in the House Appropriations & Finance Committee--along with a lot of other bills, and without a hearing. 

We asked for calls last week to the House Appropriations chair, Rep. Lundstrom, and the Speaker of the House to encourage the chair to re-release the bill to the House floor. It was on the House floor in the first place because the chair had previously released it from her committee. (Bills that are tabled can also be untabled and heard in committee.) 

While you flooded Rep. Lundstrom and House Speaker Egolf with calls, HB 295 has not, at this time, been either released or heard. 

However, funds for the fiscal analysis of the Health Security Plan are included in HB 548, commonly known as HB2 junior. This supplementary budget bill contains a lot of funding for different projects, and $275,000 has been set aside for the Legislative Finance Committee to complete the fiscal analysis. 

Additional funds have been set aside in the Senate's version of HB2 junior. We've been told $125,000 is in the Senate bill for the analysis, but we are waiting to see the actual bill when it's available. The 2019 Health Security Act originally included an appropriation of $375,000 for the fiscal analysis. Now it looks like there is a total of $400,000 to cost out the Health Security Plan!

Tuesday Morning Update

At around 8:00 PM on Sunday, March 3, the NM House of Representatives began to debate the Health Security Act (HB 295) on the House floor. 

In the confusion that followed Rep. Patricia Lundstrom's question about why the bill hadn't been heard in her committee (House Appropriations & Finance), the Speaker of the House, Brian Egolf, referred HB 295 back to that committee, with the understanding that the bill would be brought back to the House floor the following day, after House Appropriations & Finance had met.

As of this morning, HB 295 is still in House Appropriations & Finance, but there are discussions taking place and things seem to be moving forward.

On the Senate side, SB 279 is currently scheduled for a hearing in Senate Judiciary on Wednesday afternoon, after the Senate floor session ends.

For the latest on the Health Security Act, sign up for our email alerts.

House Floor, Here We Come!

HB 295 Moves to the Floor

Yesterday, we wrote that we were working to get HB 295 (the Health Security Act in the House) released from the House Appropriations & Finance Committee so it could go straight to the House floor. 

We just received word that HB 295 has indeed been withdrawn from House Appropriations and is now on the House's Temporary Calendar!

After HB 295 moves from the Temporary Calendar to the Third Reading Calendar, it will be up for a vote by the entire House of Representatives. The vote could take place as soon as Sunday.

For the latest on the Health Security Act, sign up for our email alerts.

Thursday Night Update

Senate Side (Senate Bill 279)

SB 279 has not yet been scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. It's that time in the legislative session when there are a lot of politics going on -- and unfortunately, politics that have nothing to do with Health Security can still slow the bill's progress. We're working hard to get SB 279 on the agenda in Senate Judiciary as soon as possible.


House Side (House Bill 295)


HB 295 is now in the House Appropriations & Finance Committee, but since the appropriation was removed from the bill at its previous committee hearing, we're hoping HB 295 will be released from House Appropriations and be sent to the House floor for a final vote.  As on the Senate side, this is a very busy time in the legislative session, and there's a lot going on behind the scenes. 

For the latest on the Health Security Act, sign up for our email alerts.