February 11, 2020 Blog, Media

New Mexico is the State to Watch on Health Reform in 2020

New Mexico emerges as a health care leader by pushing for affordable care and prescription drug coverage for its residents.  

Like many states across the country, health care is a top priority for people in New Mexico who continue to feel pinched by high costs to see their doctors and pay for life-saving medications. In October 2019, United States of Care commissioned a poll in partnership with Health Action New Mexico affirming that affordable health care remains a significant challenge for people across the state.  

90% of New Mexico voters believe it is important for state government to make health care more affordable for New Mexicans. Most believe it is important for New Mexico’s state government to expand health care coverage to those who are uninsured or who cannot afford insurance (86%). 

The next two weeks are important! With less than two weeks left in the legislative session, New Mexico is poised to address some significant barriers people face in accessing affordable health care and prescription drugs.  

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Key findings:

New Mexicans believe health care is too expensive, and affordable options are too limited. 

  • When asked to rate the biggest issue facing New Mexicans in getting health care, nearly one-half of New Mexico voters believe health care is too expensive (47% – top response), and almost one-third do not believe there are enough options for affordable insurance plans (29%). 
  • Premiums (27%), co-pays and deductibles (25%) are all deemed too expensive. 

New Mexicans say they are uninsured because they can’t afford coverage.

  • Among those who are uninsured, 44% cite premium costs as the reason, compared to 21% who say co-pays and deductibles. Only 19% say they don’t need health insurance. 

High costs are preventing New Mexicans from getting the care they need.

When asked if they’ve ever experienced one of the following…

  • Two in five (40%) could not pay a medical bill on time;
  • 39% skipped a medical test their doctor wanted them to take; and 
  • 38% skipped filling a prescription because of cost. 

Most voters want leaders to act: The majority believe government should ensure everyone has affordable health care. 

  • 90% of New Mexico voters believe it is important for state government to take steps to make health care more affordable for New Mexicans. And, most believe it is important for New Mexico’s state government to expand health care coverage to those who are uninsured or who cannot afford insurance (86%).  

Leaders in New Mexico are advancing a package of bills this session to address many of the barriers New Mexicans face to afford their health care.  These bills address many of the challenges we heard in our fall poll.

Leaders in New Mexico have a big opportunity in the next two weeks: 

  • HB278 would fund initiatives to reduce the cost of health care coverage for New Mexico residents, such as costs of premiums and cost-sharing for health care plans through the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange, and fund coverage programs through the New Mexico Human Services Department. This would be done by establishing the “health care affordability fund” paid for by replacing the ACA’s fee on health insurance companies, which is phasing out at the end of this year.
  • HB292 aims to lower the cost of insulin for New Mexicans by capping the out-of-pocket cost for insulin for insured diabetic patients at $50 per month and requiring the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance to convene an advisory group to study the cost of prescription drugs and methods to make them more available. 
  • SB1 authorizes the New Mexico Department of Health to establish a program to import prescription medications from Canada (and perhaps other countries) through a wholesaler or wholesalers for resale to New Mexico consumers, similar to Colorado, Florida, Maine, and Vermont.
  • HB100 will broaden the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange’s authority to decide which plans are sold through the Exchange and how they are sold. The bill would allow the Exchange to:
    • Work with the Office of Superintendent of Insurance to decide the benefit design and consumer cost-sharing structure for plans sold on the exchange;  
    • Work with third parties to pay premiums and cost-sharing for qualified individuals; and;
    • Partner with the Office of Superintendent of Insurance to make sure there is more flexibility to set open enrollment periods, resulting in more health insurance customers. 


With less than two weeks until the Legislature will adjourn, New Mexico can build on the momentum from 2019 to pass bold measures to improve the lives of New Mexicans.

Methodology: Purple Strategies conducted a survey of 1,009 New Mexico residents ages 18+ from September 19 to October 10, 2019. 

Note: All numbers are percentages except where indicated otherwise. Percentages may not add up to 100 because of rounding. The data has been weighted by gender to achieve a 49% male / 51% female breakdown, matching the census and last year’s analysis.