Category Archives: Information

Report to the PDA Action Alert Team: Key Outcomes of the 2019 Legislative Session

Hi, Everybody,

I want to begin by giving a huge thank you to everyone for all your email and phone messages urging our legislators to support legislation of importance to the progressive community. It is heartening to receive feedback from legislators agreeing with our sentiments.  Sure, there were the occasional responses disagreeing with our requests, but that just added evidence that they hear us and know that they have to deal with us.

There was a boatload of progressive legislation this year, as was expected because of the increase in number of progressive legislators.  We ended up following about one hundred bills, memorials, and joint resolutions.  About 60 of those were scheduled for committee hearings, and you emailed or called committee members about them.  Because of the progressive trend in the Legislature and the support of the governor’s office, much of the legislation of importance to us passed.  There were exceptions, often caused by conservative Democrats joining with Republicans to defeat good bills.

Both the good and the bad are discussed below:

  • This legislature was finally able to pass a bill for a State Ethics Commission (SB 668).  This bi- or multi-partisan commission receives and investigates complaints against public officials and employees, government contractors and lobbyists.
  • Renewable energy, climate crisis:
    • SB 489, the Energy Transition Act, passed.  It includes strong Renewable Portfolio Standards with a target of, among other things, zero carbon dioxide emissions from retail sales of electricity by 2045.  A disappointment was that this Act also included a provision for the costs of abandoning the current, fossil fueled generating plants to be borne solely by the public, rather than sharing those costs by the public and by the shareholders of the plant owners.
    • SB 518, New Solar Market Development Tax Credit, passed overwhelmingly in the Senate, had passed its last committee in the House, but never got a vote on the House floor.  Another casualty of more bills to consider than time to hear them for a floor vote.
    • HB 210, Community Solar Act, passed the House but didn’t make it through the Senate committee process in time to be heard on the Senate floor.  This bill would have established requirements for community solar systems that subscribers could use to meet their energy needs.  A community solar system would supply its power to the public utility serving the area, which would bill subscribers at rates determined by the Public Regulation Commission.
  • Health care:
    • HB 416 and SB 405, Medicaid Buy-In, to allow members of the public to participate in Medicaid by paying the costs, was tabled in House Appropriations while the Senate worked on the budget.  There is $142,000 in the budget for the “study and administrative development of the Medicaid Buy-In plan.”  This allows HSD to prepare to implement the Medicaid Buy-In, including seeking federal waivers to receive federal financing.
    • HB 308, Dental Therapists, passed.
    • SB 337, Surprise Billing Protection Act, passed unanimously.
    • HB 436, Align Health Insurance Law with Federal Law, passed.  This bill amends sections of the NM law governing Insurance plans to include many of the provisions of the ACA, such as prohibiting denial of coverage of pre-existing conditions, prohibiting charging higher premiums for disability, and eliminating co-pays for preventive services.
    • HB 88 and SB 101 to establish a Health Care Value and Access Commission did not progress in the respective committees, but money was allocated in the budget to work towards the goals of these bills:
      • Health Care Value and Access Commission: $275,000 to set up a commission that will review and make recommendations on the ways health care is currently being provided in New Mexico.
      • All Payers Database:  $900,000 to set up a much needed statewide database to track, in accordance with privacy laws, medical procedure usage rates, cost, outcomes and more to give the state data that it currently does not have and needs to better support positive health care outcomes.
    • SB 279 and HB 295, Health Security Act, also died in both House and Senate committees.  HM 92, Health Security Plan Analysis, passed the House and there is $389,000 in the budget for Legislative Finance to complete a fiscal analysis of the Health Security Act, which is the first step needed before implementing the Act.
  • Permanent funds for early childhood:  HJR 1 passed the House, but died in the Senate Finance Committee.  A replacement, SB 671, backed by the governor, also died in the Senate Finance Committee.
  • Voting rights:
    • SB 672, Early & Auto Voter Registration, passed. It combined earlier bills HB 84 and HB 86 to provide for voter registration at early voting sites, at polling places on election day, and to provide for automatic voter registration at Motor Vehicle Department offices as well as some other offices subject to negotiation.
    • HB 57, Restore Felon Voting rights, died in committee.
    • HB 55, National Popular Vote, passed.  This bill commits New Mexico to join a compact of states that agree to assign their electoral college votes to the winner of the national popular vote, whether or not the state itself voted for the winner of the national popular vote.
  • Increasing minimum wage:  Several bills with differing increases in the minimum wage failed, but were replaced by SB 437, Raise Minimum Wage & Create Separate One, and was passed.  This bill, as introduced, would have raised the minimum wage to 11 dollars per hour by 2022.  It was amended to raise it to 12 dollars per hour by 2022, and to cost of living increases thereafter.  The bill also provides for a minimum wage of $8.50 for students in secondary schools working outside of school hours.
  • Increasing salaries of state employees:  A section of HB 2, General Appropriation Action of 2019, increases the salaries of state employees by an average of 4 percent, except that the salaries for teachers are increased by at least 6%.  HB 2 passed.
  • Reducing small loan interest rates to 36%:  HB 22, HB 375, and HB 386 were either not scheduled for hearing or died in committee.
  • Right to work laws:  HB 85, Union Security Agreements, passed.  This bill precludes local governments from adopting or continuing in effect laws that prohibit agreements requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment; i.e., this bill prohibits local governments from establishing so-called right to work laws.
  • Raising income taxes for high earners:  HB 6, Tax Changes, includes a provision to increase the rates for high earners.  For example, married couples filing joint returns will pay income taxes at a rate of 5.9% for earnings in excess of $315,000. HB 6 passed.
  • Background checks for firearm sales:  SB 8, Firearm Sale Background Check, passed and was signed by the governor.
  • Decriminalizing abortion:  HB 51, Decriminalize Abortion, passed the House but failed in the Senate.
  • Gender equality:  SB 25, No Differential Pricing Based On Gender, passed.
  • Decriminalizing recreational use of marijuana:  HB 356, Cannabis Regulation Act, passed the House, but died in the Senate Finance Committee.
  • Hemp:  HB 581, Hemp Manufacturing Act, passed.  This bill allows and regulates production, testing, research, and manufacturing of hemp products.
  • Healthy soil act:  HB 204 passed.
  • Public banking:  HM 41, Study State-Owned Bank, passed its only scheduled committee hearing, but was not considered on the House floor.
  • School ratings:  SB 229, School Support & Accountability Act, passed.  This bill repeals the A-B-C-D-F schools rating act, to be replaced by criteria developed by the Legislative Education Study Committee.

If you want to check the status of other bills of interest, or to see if the governor has signed bills, go here.

Until next year,

Pat Bartels, Laura Stokes, and Paul Stokes

Education Not Deportation Advocacy Day

Thank you for having me today at La Red. Please forward this to the rest of the partners. Our Education Not Deportation Campaign seeks to increase our state’s investment in public education while reducing the investment in federal immigration enforcement.

Tuesday, February 19th a day full of experience-based learning at the state’s capitol. During the day we will visit legislators offices and advocate for the bills that are directly impacting our communities. For preparation participants will engage in advocacy activities and civic engagement training on Saturday, Feb 16th. We would love to invite you and your members to join us for this day.

To be part of our day long advocacy program register for this day please fill this registration form. If you cannot participate in our program but you would still like to help, make sure to be at the Rotunda at 2pm to catch our closing of the day with a visual of people power!

What: Education Not Deportation: The Rise
When: February 19
Registration
Facebook Event
If you have any questions you can contact me at this email or at 505 210 2966

Sincerely,
Felipe Rodriguez
Campaign Manager
NM Dream Team

Have you experienced “Surprise Medical Billing”? Your stories are needed!

Rep. Nathan Small has introduced SB 207, the Surprise Billing Protection Act to protect consumers from this unfair billing practice. If you have a story to tell please send it to PAIGE.DUHAMEL@state.nm.us in the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance who is in support of this bill.

Surprise medical billing occurs when an insured person is treated by an out-of-network provider that the patient had no role in choosing.  This occurs most frequently in medical emergencies or major surgery situations when an insured person is treated 1) at an in-network facility for a medical or behavioral  emergency and services are provided by ancillary out-of-network providers (surgeon, radiologist, anesthesiologist, pathologist) or 2) patient receives in-patient surgery by an out-of-network provider (physician or ancillary providers) without consent of insured person and is hospitalized  or 3) with elective inpatient admissions at in-network facilities.

These surprise bills can be quite large. Patients may receive bills from multiple providers. One study showed that ambulance rides were billed out-of-network roughly half of the time.

The goals of the bill are to:

1)    Limit the amount billed for out-of- network emergency room care to what the patient would owe an in-network provider,

2)    Limit the amount billed for major surgery costs provided by out-of-network providers to what the patient would owe an in-network provider,

3)    Advise emergency patients that they could run up excess charges if they are in an out-of- network hospital; obtain statement signed by patient that they have been told and understand

4)    Eliminate “Balance Billing” or the ability of a provider to bill a covered person for the difference between the provider’s billed charges and the amount allowed by the insurance plan.  Payment disputes would be resolved by physicians and insurance and not involve consumers.

* The New Mexican Patient Protection Act allows insurers to bill only what a patient would owe an in-network provider for out-of-network emergency care.

There have been other efforts to regulate health care plans to mitigate surprise billing, including a bill introduced in Congress in 2017 by now Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, “The Fair Billing Act of 2017.” Without federal legislation, states are stepping forward to regulate plans themselves.  Other considerations are to establish legislative guidelines for out-of-network providers to seek more payment from insurance carriers based on a formula set up by either state rules or through a federal formula.

Medicare for All Calculator

The Medicare for All Calculator is a free, online, user-friendly tool based on a proposed financing plan for H.R. 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All bill in Congress. With this calculator,mfacalc.com, anyone can enter information anonymously about the number of people in the household with health insurance, their current income, a typical year’s health insurance premium and out of pocket health costs. Once this information is entered the calculator will determine the savings (in most cases) that HR 676 would provide if enacted.

H.R. 676 would expand Medicare to cover all Americans, regardless of age, income or disability. It eliminates ALL individual healthcare costs, premiums, co-pays and deductibles. It adds comprehensive healthcare coverage, including dental, vision, mental health, long-term care, prescription drugs and other benefits.

We are indebted to Kris Hardy, owner of Albuquerque Software for his role in developing the Medicare for All Calculator. And to Health Action New Mexico for their sponsorship.

A group of concerned citizens, many who are former healthcare providers and associates, have formed the Medicare for All Speakers Bureau. We have created a 30 minute Power Point presentation which compares single-payer health system myths vs facts, gives the pertinent points of the bill and a picture of the financial analysis done by Gerald Friedman, PhD., Economics Professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, on how to pay for this bill if enacted, “Funding HR 676”, published in 2013.

If your group would like to schedule a presentation email  mc4allnm@gmail.com for more information.

PDACNM Newsletter November 28, 2018 – Make Peace

Read the Latest Newsletter Here!

Dignity Kits for Asylum Seekers

Thank all you PDACNM supporters for contributing  Dignity Kits for asylum seekers. Here is Deborah Marez-Baca beside a rented van stuffed to capacity with hundreds of Dignity Kits donated by many friends of PDACNM.  Deb and husband Larry drove to El Paso over the Thanksgiving weekend and delivered the kits to those in need at the border.  We will be making more deliveries in the future of whatever items the agencies think are necessary to help these courageous and desperate migrants seeking safety.