Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico, one of New Mexico’s largest health insurers, on Monday named a new vice president for its Medicaid arm in Nancy Smith-Leslie.
Smith-Leslie is not new to the state, nor is she new to working on Medicaid related projects. She has more than 20 years of health care expertise, most recently as a consultant for Sellers Dorsey where she provided strategic guidance to state-run Medicaid programs and managed care organizations.
Most notably, though, is Smith-Leslie’s past run with the New Mexico Human Services Department. From 2015 through 2018, she served as the state’s Medicaid director — part of a 14-year career with the department.
“I’m very excited to be in this role (with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico),” Smith-Leslie told the Journal. “I’ve always respected Blue Cross’ commitment to New Mexico communities. … It’s the perfect fit.”
In Smith-Leslie’s new role, which began Monday, she will oversee BCBSNM’s “strategic direction and overall operations for the New Mexico Medicaid division.” She will also be based out of the health care insurer’s office in Albuquerque.
Smith-Leslie’s appointment comes at a time when the Medicaid continuous coverage established during the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to end at the end of this month. Her most immediate job is guiding the health care insurer’s outreach efforts to its customers through a partnership with human services as well as the state’s health insurance exchange, beWellnm.
“It’s all hands on deck,” she said.
But her appointment also comes as human services is starting over the procurement process for new managed care organizations for the state’s Medicaid program next year. HSD has since hired a Medicaid expert to make recommendations regarding the procurement process and timeline, which is expected in the coming months.
Asked if BCBSNM planned on resubmitting a proposal for the new procurement, Smith-Leslie said “yes.”
Smith-Leslie first got her start in health care with the state in 2000, working on a grant-funded project that aimed to link school-based health centers with MCOs. She left in 2002 and came back to work under former Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration, helping with the creation of a Medicaid coverage expansion program for adults, she said.
“As a longstanding Medicaid provider in New Mexico, we are pleased to have Nancy Smith-Leslie join our team, as we leverage her experience and expertise to provide the best care and services to our members,” Janice Torrez, BCBSNM president, said in a statement. “We are committed to New Mexico and all our members and having Nancy on our team will help drive that forward.”