After calling for the creation of a new health care agency to move New Mexico closer to “universal health care” in her State of the State address last month, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham approved a bill Tuesday that appears to brings the state closer to him. purpose.
New legislation introduced Monday seeks to rename the New Mexico Department of Human Services as the Department of Health Care Authority in order to “create a single, unified department for health care procurement, regulation and policy,” according to a release to the press from the governor’s office. .
The legislation comes during a time of transition for New Mexico’s health and human services agencies. Patrick Allen was named secretary of the state Department of Health in December. The agency has been headed since July 2021 by David Scrase, who balanced these duties with his role as secretary of the state Department of Human Services. Scrase retired as human services secretary in January, and HSD Deputy Secretary Kari Armijo is serving as interim head of the department.
Allen had led the Oregon Health Authority between 2017 and the end of 2022 — an agency with 5,000 employees and an annual budget of $15 billion. But if the proposed legislation passes and Allen remains health secretary, the newly created Department of Health Care Authority would not fall under his purview.
Senate Bill 16, sponsored by Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Elizabeth Stefanics and Rep. Elizabeth Thomson, will rename the HSD and transfer three divisions within the Department of Health and the Department of General Services to the Department of Health Care Authority.
Divisions that would fall under the newly appointed authority include the Health Improvement Division and the Developmental Disabilities Division from the DOH, as well as the State Health Benefits Division from the GSD. In addition, the legislation proposes a transfer of committees from two state departments – the Group Benefits Committee and the Health Policy Commission.
The legislation, which is currently in the Senate Rules Committee, was endorsed by Lujan Grisham on Tuesday.
“Consolidating purchasing, oversight and health care policy into one department creates a tremendous opportunity to leverage the state’s purchasing power and other policy tools to make high-quality health care affordable and more accessible to all, said the governor.
Part of the proposed legislation says the governor may issue an executive order that “moves divisions and programs to or from other departments to accomplish the reorganization purposes of this act.” Recommended organizational changes and statutory changes will have to be reported to two legislative committees by November, and a final report will be given to the legislature by January 2024.
Staff writer Andy Smith contributed to this report.
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