SANTA FE – Top-ranking Human Services Department officials told legislators Tuesday they will need nearly $1 billion next year for the state’s share of rapidly rising Medicaid costs – described by one key lawmaker as a “runaway train.”
Members of a key legislative panel reacted with alarm to the request for an additional $85.2 million, or 8.5 percent, to keep up with skyrocketing enrollment and a looming decrease in the federal matching rate for states like New Mexico that opted to expand their Medicaid programs.
Several legislators also point out that plummeting oil prices have made it unclear how much money they will have to spend in the coming year.
“This is not a pretty picture, but it’s something we’re going to have to deal with,” said Rep. Larry Larrañaga, R-Albuquerque, during Tuesday’s meeting of the Legislative Finance Committee.
Human Services Secretary Brent Earnest said Medicaid enrollment has increased much more rapidly than the agency expected. By June 2017, the department now projects there will be more than 919,000 New Mexicans enrolled in Medicaid – a figure that would be more than one-third of the state’s total population. That’s up from about 560,000 New Mexicans on Medicaid rolls at the start of 2013.