There are big, positive changes coming soon to the New Mexico health insurance market.

Not only will affordability of coverage for all New Mexicans be the driving goal at the center of those changes, but also better choice in plan offerings, greater ease in plan comparison and purchase, more coverage options for rural parts of the state, and a simpler process for acquiring coverage for people who find themselves bouncing back and forth with Medicaid eligibility. The changes will help us with our goal to enroll more New Mexicans and Native Americans in coverage, which remains a great need in our state.

The New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange board of directors is charged with educating New Mexicans about the importance of obtaining coverage and helping them to find a plan that fits their needs and their budget.

As part of that mission, our board voted unanimously to support a piece of legislation being introduced in Santa Fe, which will give both the exchange and the state of New Mexico a better opportunity to collaborate with one another in order to meet these very important goals.

House Bill 100, sponsored by state Reps. Deborah Armstrong and Micaela Lara Cadena, is an amendment to the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange Act. If passed, it will allow us to move forward more efficiently and effectively with the new state-based exchange and our transition off of the federal platform.

For the first time, the exchange will be able to build upon its current partnerships with the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance, the New Mexico Human Services Department, and the state’s insurance carriers in order to implement standardized plans and eliminate barriers to different types of coverage. This is the best path toward to reducing costs for families and individuals on the exchange.

House Bill 100 will also allow for more integration and collaboration between the exchange and Medicaid so that we can better understand the uninsured population, reach them and get them enrolled in a health plan.

Finally, this legislation gives us the control we need to have a smooth and successful transition to a state-based exchange in 2022. This move to a state-based exchange is necessary if we are going to keep our state marketplace responsive and available to New Mexicans regardless of changes and debates at the federal level.

I am not claiming that House Bill 100 is the answer to all of the challenges and changes we are facing in healthcare, but it will certainly be an important tool and a step in the right direction.

I want New Mexicans to know that our board of directors is represented by various state agencies, insurance carriers, health advocates, community-based organizations and health care providers. We are appointed from a variety of sources and we have diverse backgrounds. You can be assured that a unanimous vote in favor of this effort demonstrates the broad commitment among New Mexico’s health policy leaders to work together toward better outcomes for all. Together, we are heading in the right direction.

David Shaw is chairman of the board of directors of the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange.

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