160,000 additional people in New Mexico came onto the Medicaid rolls as a result of a requirement for continuous health care coverage during the emergency. If many of those people flood the offices in person or the phone lines trying to access health care or food assistance, “that will strain our capacity,” the state's top health official said. (Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images)
After as many as 100,000 New Mexicans get kicked off of Medicaid when the COVID health emergency is declared over, 30 days later, nearly everyone getting food benefits in the state will see that payment drop by one-third, according to the state’s Human Services Department.
HSD manages the state’s Medicaid and SNAP programs, which together serve 1,081,988 people, or 51% of the state’s entire population.
Human Services Secretary David Scrase told the Legislative Finance Committee on Wednesday the department will need more money to make up for what will be lost when the federal government declares the emergency over, along with more staff and better tech systems to get people who are dropped back onto the rolls.
“We’re going to need to get more people on board to do this right,” Scrase said. “But please, you will get calls. I think you will get a lot of calls from your constituents.”
160,000 additional people came onto the Medicaid rolls as a result of a requirement for continuous health care coverage during the emergency, Scrase said.
If many of those people flood the offices in person or the phone lines trying to access health care or food assistance, “that will strain our capacity,” he said. More than 15% of HSD’s staff positions are unfilled.
There will be a $254 million shortfall in the Medicaid program when the emergency ends and additional federal dollars stop coming to New Mexico, Scrase said. HSD is asking lawmakers for $254 million to replace the lost funding.
“When the public health emergency ends, that’s actually the cost of doing Medicaid,” Scrase said. “When that goes down, we have to replace that.”
HSD is also asking lawmakers for a one-time allocation of $27 million, primarily for SNAP benefits.
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