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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Why NM Doesn't Swing Anymore, Susana Bringing GOP Governors Here For "Summit," And A Look At The Medicaid Mess 

We wish we were but we aren't--a swing state, that is. The NM GOP seems to be longing for the good old days in a recent news release:

. . .We believe that every campaign should fight to win in New Mexico, because whoever our nominee is, the experience of campaigning in and organizing in a swing state like New Mexico would help defeat Hillary Clinton here in November.

The last time NM went R in the prez race was in 2004, we haven't selected a Republican US Senator since Saint Pete was re-elected in 2002 and after 40 years under R control, the  ABQ congressional seat went Dem in 2008 and hasn't looked back.

 If you want some swinging around here, your best bet is the dance floor--not national politics.

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ALLIGATOR ALLEY

One of our Gators reports in with this:

Did you know that Gov. Martinez is hosting her fellow governors at the Corporate Policy Summit #1 on May 17th and 18th at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort in Bernalillo? Corporate Policy Summit #2 will be held in Boston on September 13-14. She's going to be busy lady and out of state most of the year until after the election. Here's part of her schedule which doesn't include campaigning for GOP governors up for re-election.

Martinez is chair of the Republican Governors Association and some of her schedule was posted on the RGA site.

THE MEDICAID MESS

How mismanaged is state government? Try this one on for size. The state may let well over $300 million in Medicaid money slip from its fingers, even though it only has to find $86 million to get the $300 million from the Feds:

Faced with limited dollars and skyrocketing Medicaid enrollment, the New Mexico Human Services Department. . . plans to generate as much as $33.5 million in savings by cutting provider rates for doctors, hospitals and dentists around the state. . .

New Mexico is seeking to close an $86 million state funding gap for Medicaid services between now and mid-2017, under budget restrictions linked to a downturn in energy markets and other spending priorities. The state budget shortfall means New Mexico is likely to forgo well over $300 million in federal matching funds for Medicaid.

The twist here is that the Martinez administration is putting the screws to the UNM Health Sciences Center to try and pry loose at least $50 million in cash for Medicaid from a stockpile of $220 million set aside mainly for a new hospital, says ABQ Dem State Senator Jerry Oriz Y Pino. He points out the administration's Medicaid cuts would be most severe for UNM Health.

The administration previously asked UNM Heath Sciences for that money but were rebuffed. Soon after the UNM Regents restructured the goverance of Health Sciences make it more answerable to the main campus. This latest move seems aimed at getting that $50 million back on the table.

The administration is not misguided in going after more UNM money for Medicaid (UNM Health contributes each year) and UNM Health is not amiss in wanting it eventually paid back like it has been in the past when the Federal matching funds come in. But the administration would not give the payback pledge when it went for the $50 million. The adults in the room need to craft a compromise and secure the hundreds of millions in federal funding rather than posturing. Or how about this. . .

Tens of millions in dollars of capital outlay funds just sit there unspent. That could be a source of onetime money to plug the $86 million hole that would then turn into well over $300 million, thanks to the federal match.

If we do see Medicaid payments slashed, one reader says look for this:

Under paid doctors will flee the state for more lucrative grounds, especially the high income medical specialists.

The doctors better not leave too soon. Thousands of New Mexicans getting sick to their stomachs over the lack of leadership around here are going to need them.

ONE OTHER THING

UNM Health stockpiled its $220 million so it can pay cash for a new UNM hospital. But is that really wise? Interest rates are at historic lows. We could build that hospital by floating bonds at these great rates and free up cash for Medicaid and other needs.

UNM Health also gets $90 million in taxes for its indigent fund, even in the aftermath of Obamacare which is aimed at providing everyone with private health insurance or through Medicaid.

From this perch it looks as if Bernalillo County property owners may be over taxed when it comes to the health complex.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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