HB 575: A New Approach

The Health Security Act in the house (HB 101) made it to the floor of the house of representatives on February 25, but it was pulled off the floor and into a third committee, House Appropriations & Finance, to address some concerns raised on the floor by a couple of legislators.

While the house Democratic leadership has been in full support of the Health Security Act, there have been a few Democratic house members who clearly would not have voted for the bill on the floor. The votes in the house are very tight, so if more than two Democrats voted against the bill, it would not pass.

After days of negotiations, the Health Security Act sponsors—Reps. Debbie Armstrong and Bobby Gonzales—came to the conclusion that they needed to change the Health Security Act into a fiscal-analysis-only bill.

Using one of Rep. Gonzales's empty "Public Peace" bills (called "dummy bills") a bill was drafted that would require a fiscal analysis of the Health Security Plan, along with "other models." The title of the bill, The Health Security Plan Analysis Act (HB 575), makes the intent of the bill very clear. The language in the original Health Security bill that would require the creation of the nominating committee, the commission, etc., if the analysis numbers look good was removed.

The deadline for a report on the fiscal analysis would still be October 2018, with the ability to then proceed with the implementation phase directly after the 2019 two-month legislative session.

What this means is that the Health Security Plan effectively remains on the timeline outlined in HB 101, with the analysis phase moving forward as planned.

The Health Security Act will need to be re-introduced in 2019, but at that point it will have the force of a full fiscal analysis behind it, and the implementation phase could begin at that time.

While not spelling out the pages of details currently contained in the Health Security Act, the new bill makes it very clear that the fiscal analysis focuses on the Health Security Plan. HB 101 is specifically referenced in the legislation. While other models may be looked at (which could mean making adjustments to the Health Security Plan based on the fiscal findings), the real focus is a full analysis of the Plan that so many New Mexicans want to see happen. 

HB 575 passed the House Appropriations & Finance Committee on March 7, on a vote of 10-8.