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Governor signs bills on health care, records

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham sits between Rep. Deborah Armstrong and Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, both Albuquerque Democrats, as she answers questions a during a news conference in the Governor’s Office in Santa Fe on Wednesday. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday signed into law a package of bills aimed at making medicine more affordable – including a new limit on copays for insulin, a move designed to make it cheaper in New Mexico than in any other state, she said.

Approval of the health care legislation was one of about 30 signings as Lujan Grisham enters the last week to act on bills approved in the 2020 legislative session.

In a news conference Wednesday, the governor highlighted House Bill 292, which will cap the monthly cost of insulin for diabetes patients at $25, the lowest copay in the country, she said. She also signed legislation allowing the state’s health insurance exchange to require reduced out-of-pocket costs for patients, clearing the way for the importation of drugs from Canada and imposing new regulations on e-cigarettes and tobacco products.

The bills, Lujan Grisham said, are intended to reduce costs and increase access to health care in New Mexico – one of the poorest states in the nation.

Helping diabetes patients is a priority, she said. Insulin prices nearly tripled over 10 years, the governor said, resulting in some diabetes patients rationing the amount of medicine they use and endangering their lives.

“It’s an outrage,” Lujan Grisham said, “and this is a state that isn’t going to let that happen.”

Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena, a Mesilla Democrat and co-sponsor of the legislation, described the bill as “a matter of life and death.”

The governor also signed dozens of other measures Wednesday – including Senate Bill 64, making state settlement records public immediately, rather than after a six-month wait. She also signed House Bill 21, prohibiting nondisclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases.

Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, has now signed 46 of the 88 bills passed by lawmakers. She hasn’t vetoed any.

Democrats hold majorities in both legislative chambers.

In Wednesday’s news conference at the Capitol, the governor joined supporters as she signed:

⋄ House Bill 100, broadening the authority of New Mexico’s health insurance exchange, partly to address the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Supporters said the bill will empower the exchange to establish standardized health plans that help limit out-of-pocket costs for New Mexicans.

⋄ Senate Bill 1, allowing New Mexico to pursue the importation of prescription drugs from Canada.

⋄ Senate Bill 131, imposing licensing and other requirements on the manufacture, distribution and sale of tobacco products. It raises the minimum age for purchasing e-cigarettes and tobacco from 18 to 21, matching a new federal law.

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