As of the New Year in New Mexico, new laws will come into effect to increase access to health insurance and to abolish many court fines against teenagers that are viewed as counterproductive.
A bill approved by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the state’s Democrat-led lawmakers will add a 2.75 percent surcharge to health insurance premiums – the upfront payments made on behalf of an individual or family – effective January 1, 2022 to keep the insurance active. The current surcharge is 1 percent of the premiums.
Much of the tax hike will be used to secure health insurance offers for low- and middle-income individuals and small business workers from 2023 onwards.
Insurance Superintendent Russell Toal says the surcharge will provide a crucial subsidy if Medicaid coverage expires under special federal pandemic regulations for an estimated 85,000 residents. Many patients who quit Medicaid are likely to search the state insurance exchange for policies.
Regardless, New Mexico eliminates many fines and fees in the juvenile justice system that are viewed as potentially harmful and expensive to administer.
Under the law of Democratic State Representatives Roger Montoya of Velarde and Gail Chasey of Albuquerque, the state will no longer charge a $ 10 application fee for assigning a public defender in delinquency cases. The new law also removes fines for minors possession of marijuana and limits charitable obligations for minors caught with cannabis to 48 hours.
New Mexico legalized non-medicinal cannabis for adults ages 21 and older in late June and approved retail sales of recreational marijuana through April 1, 2022.
Regarding the state’s new surcharge, several lawmakers – Republicans and Democrats – have feared a tax hike on policies would be passed on from health insurers to businesses and consumers. Insurance reps say nearly 90 percent of the tax hike will go to managed care organizations that offer Medicaid insurance.
State officials also hope to use some of the new tax revenue to attract more federal funding for local Medicaid providers.
Toal says it is still up to lawmakers to approve spending in 2022 that will cut costs on the state health insurance exchange and help small businesses. Legislators will meet for a 30-day session on January 18, which will mainly focus on budgetary matters.