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September 2008

New Mexico Approves Modest Funding Increase to Cover Additional Children

When Governor Bill Richardson called a special session of the New Mexico legislature in August of this year, one of the goals was to expand health coverage. This session follows a multi-year policy development process that resulted in recommendations from the Governor that would have led to universal health coverage in the state. After the legislature failed to pass comprehensive health reform earlier in the year, Richardson vowed to return to the issue in a special session. Prior to the session, he set a scaled-back goal of expanding health coverage to all children. He also proposed streamlining several health programs in the state to improve efficiency. When the special session finished in late August, the legislature had agreed to fund:

  • $22.5 million for children’s health (including behavioral health) to increase the number of children covered through the Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) who are already eligible, but not enrolled; and
  • $10 million to treat developmentally disabled children.

The governor failed to get agreement on additional coverage expansions despite a budget surplus in the state due to oil and natural gas revenues. He characterized the achievements of the session as “solid, good, and modest.” He has vowed to return to the issue with the next legislature.