Category Archives: Legislation

Bills in the NM Legislature or other Legislative Issues

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.

PDACNM NEWSLETTER May 17, 2018 – EMERGENCY ACTIONS

 

FARM BILL VOTE THIS WEEK!!!!!

VOTE ON FARM BILL IMMINENT.  WE UNDERSTAND REP. MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM IS TO VOTE NO!  BUT WE DON’T KNOW WHERE REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN STANDS ON THIS VOTE.  Please call his office and ask him to vote no for the reasons below:

Rep. Ben Ray Luján:  DC office – (202) 225-6190; Rio Rancho – (505) 994-0499

Please thank Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham for her no vote.  DC office – (202) 225-6316; ABQ office – (505) 346-6781

Farm Bill: Republicans Want to Cut Food Assistance & MORE!
  • What’s the issue: The Farm Bill was last passed in 2013, and it must be reauthorized every five years. It’s a $100 billion legislative package that covers everything from farm subsidies and agricultural programs to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps). Typically, it is a bipartisan exercise-but in April, Republicans passed a partisan bill out of committee that takes away food assistance from people (over two million people could be kicked out of the program) and instead funds unproven, unscalable job training programs that will leave people hungry.
  • What to expect: The House is expected to vote on the Farm Bill the week of May 14; it will probably pass with few or no Democratic votes. The Senate will take it up after that; it’s likely they will start from scratch with their own version.
  • Bottom line: Only a few months after voting to give trillions in tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations, House Republicans are back to make life worse for families who rely on federal food assistance. The House vote in mid-May will only be the start of this fight; we’ll keep you updated as it goes forward.
Links to info about Farm Bill:
 Farm and Ranch Freedon  Here
Sierra Club here
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy here
AgMag here
Here are six strikes against H.R. 2, the Agricultural and Nutrition Act of 2018:
  1. The Rich Get Richer – The House farm bill creates new loopholes that further tilt farm subsidies toward the largest, most successful farm businesses and away from small family farmers. The bill would allow cousins, nieces and nephews of farmers to receive subsidies even if they don’t live or work on the farm. A recent report by the Department of Agriculture found that the share of subsidies claimed by the biggest farms has tripled since 1991, and H.R. 2 would make this problem worse.
  2. The Poor Get Poorer – The same bill that enriches the largest and most successful farmers will also cause more than 1 million low-income households – more than 2 million people, including working families with children – to lose their food-assistance benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or have them reduced. The bill includes unworkable job training requirements that will place new burdens on states and leave many poor Americans without food assistance.
  3. Drinking Water Gets Dirtier – The House farm bill cuts conservation spending by $800 million, including programs designed to protect drinking water from farm pollution. Although the bill includes some reforms, these provisions are outweighed by proposed cuts and new pesticide safety loopholes.
  4. Diets Get Less Healthy – While the House farm bill increases funding for SNAP recipients who shop at farmers markets, the bill eliminates funding for other programs that help finance farmers markets and help farmers build local markets for healthy products. The bill also cuts funding for programs that help organic farmers.
  5. Rural America Gets Left Behind – At the very same moment Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was hosting a conference on the importance of broadband internet to rural America, the House Agriculture Committee was voting to cut USDA rural development funding by more than $500 million. The House bill also cuts funding from programs to help farmers produce more renewable energy.
  6. States Get Sidelined – The House farm bill included a sweeping amendment from Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, that would broadly preempt state and local food and farm laws, including food safety and food labeling laws. Although intended to block a new California animal welfare law, the King amendment would wipe away thousands of state and local laws regulating everything from invasive pests to fishing.

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PDA CNM DIGEST May 17, 2018

Sierra Club – NM Legislative Update


The 2018 New Mexico legislative session is in full swing, and I know you want to know about the legislation that protects or threatens our climate, water, land and wildlife.

Below is a primer on priority environmental legislation. Please join our legislative listserv if you’d like action alerts during the session, and see the box at right for a great opportunity to get involved in Environment Day at the Roundhouse.

Pro-environment legislation

Solar tax credits (House Bills 36 and 87, Senate Bill 79) These bills take slightly different approaches to restoring the tax credit for New Mexico businesses and residents who install solar on their rooftops, up to 10%. It is a proven job-creator and boosts the solar industry. 

Energy-storage tax credit (HB77): This bill credits up to 30% of the purchase and installation cost of qualified storage systems, up to $5,000 for residents and $75,000 for businesses.

Funds for non-diversion Gila River projects (HB127 and SB72): These bills would earmark some of the funds currently slated for a $1 billion Gila River diversion project to go instead toward water-saving non-diversion projects in southwestern New Mexico counties.

Renewable energy on state buildings (SB7)Sen. Jeff Steinborn’s bill to install renewable energy on state buildings where it is economically feasible passed the Legislature with support from both parties but was vetoed by the governor. 

Anti-environment legislation

Keeping Coal Plants Alive (HB72)Rep. Paul Bandy’s bill would encourage the sale of coal-fired power plants for a dollar — perhaps to generators who could continue to operate these polluting facilities after New Mexico utilities have found them uneconomical. It also excludes the Public Regulation Commission from having any say in the transfer.

PNM’s Energy Redevelopment Bond (HB80) PNM must make significant commitments to the community, ratepayers and renewable energy to make this legislation — basically a state-backed bond to cover remaining debt after the San Juan coal plant closes — a positive investment rather than a bailout for PNM. 

Seizure of public lands (SB134) Sen. Cliff Pirtle’s bill demands that federal public land be transferred to the state and develops a committee to make that happen.

We are tracking many, many other bills that affect our climate, water, land and wildlife. To keep track and get action alerts, please join our legislative listserv and come to Environment Day at the Legislature on Feb. 1 (please see box for details). Write to riogrande.chapter@sierraclub.org for more information. 

Thank you for taking action and for all you do for New Mexico’s environment!

David Coss, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter chair

To learn more about the work of the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter, visit our website and our Facebook page.