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UPDATED: Governor Signs Insurance Rate Review Bill

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Martinez also signed or vetoed dozens of other measures Thursday as she approached a Friday deadline for acting on bills passed this year by the Legislature 

Gov. Susana Martinez signed legislation into law on Thursday to strengthen regulatory review of health insurance premium increases.

The measure was developed by lawmakers in response to a public outcry over a double-digit rate increase requested last year by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico.

The governor signed the legislation on Thursday, just a day after the state’s insurance superintendent approved a settlement of the rate case allowing a 21 percent average premium increase for about 40,000 Blue Cross customers.

Martinez said the new law, which takes effect next year, “will help ensure that consumers are getting a fair deal when insurance companies seek to increase their rates.”

The insurance superintendent, who runs the Insurance Division of the Public Regulation Commission, is responsible for reviewing and approving health insurance rates.

The new law allows for an appeal of the superintendent’s decision to the full commission — something that commissioners complained they couldn’t do in the Blue Cross case — and then to the state Supreme Court. The regulator also must post information about a rate case on the agency’s website to help consumers understand the financial reasons for proposed premium increases.

Also Thursday, the governor signed a measure to ban state and local government employees from taking a job with a company if they had participated in contracting with the business.

“This legislation will help to ensure that government employees who oversee the use of taxpayer dollars are not spending them for personal gain,” Martinez said.

The ethics legislation was among dozens of bills signed or vetoed by the governor as she approached a Friday deadline for acting on measures passed by the Legislature, which adjourned last month.

Martinez vetoed a bill that legislative supporters contended would strengthen the state’s sex offender registration law. But the Republican governor disagreed, saying certain provisions limited the protection for children from sexual predators.

The governor complained that a sexual offender’s place of employment would be disclosed on a government website only if the individual had “unsupervised contact” with children. Currently, that information is available to the public when offenders can directly interact with kids while on of the job.

“It is unacceptable to allow sex offenders to work as janitors, assistant coaches and in other supervised positions around children without having to register their place of employment,” Martinez said.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, criticized the governor’s veto. “People who entice our children online can still take advantage of a legal loophole and avoid having to register. Vitally needed law enforcement tools to track sex offenders social networking sites did not become law due to petty politics, but Gov. Martinez has made her choice clear — politics over our children’s safety,” Maestas said.

The governor also vetoed a proposal to raise a malpractice liability cap from $600,000 to $1 million, with the limit automatically adjusted for inflation.

“This increase in judgment amounts could lead to an increase in frivolous lawsuits, insurance rates and other high costs that would be passed on to patients and hospitals and discourage physicians from coming to our state,” Martinez said in her veto message.

Signed by the governor were bills to:

  • Delay unrestricted driver’s license for teenagers who get traffic tickets or for underage drinking.
  • Allow Election Day vote centers, in which up to 10 precincts would have the same polling place. However, any voter from that county could cast a ballot at the vote center. Supporters say it could reduce election costs by having fewer polling places and should make voting more convenient.
  • Require textbook publishers to make their instructional materials available to schools in an electronic format, as well as in a printed form, starting with the 2013-2014 school years.
  • Permit people to donate unused prescription drugs to doctors, licensed clinics and health care facilities.
  • Update and standardize provisions of state election law, including moving the filing date for independent candidates to 21 days after the primary election rather than having it the day after the primary. Another change allows independents and minor party voters to serve as poll workers, which currently only Republicans and Democrats can do.

 


Thursday, 07 April 2011 16:20

 

Gov. Susana Martinez has signed legislation into law to strengthen regulatory review of health insurance premium increases.

The measure was developed by lawmakers in response to a public outcry over a double-digit rate increase requested last year by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico.

The governor signed the legislation on Thursday, just a day after the state’s insurance superintendent approved a settlement of the rate case allowing a 21 percent average premium increase for about 40,000 Blue Cross customers.

Martinez said the new law will help ensure that consumers are getting a “fair deal” in insurance rate cases. The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2012.

 

 


 

Thursday, 07 April 2011 15:02

 

A newly enacted ethics law signed by Gov. Susana Marinez on Thursday will ban state and local government employees from taking a job with a company if they had participated in contracting with the business.

“Any situation in which an individual acts on behalf of the government to secure a contract and then goes to work for that contractor should raise red flags,”Martinez said in a statement. “This legislation will help to ensure that government employees who oversee the use of taxpayer dollars are not spending them for personal gain.”

The new law takes effect in July.

Another provision will prohibit state elected officials and employees from acquiring a financial interest in a company that might be affected by their governmental decisions. There’s already a similar restriction on city and county officials.

The ethics legislation was among dozens of bills signed or vetoed by the governor as she approached a Friday deadline for acting on measures passed by the Legislature, which adjourned last month.

Martinez vetoed a bill that legislative supporters contended would strengthen the state’s sex offender registration law. But the Republican governor disagreed, saying certain provisions limited the protection for children from sexual predators.

The governor complained that a sexual offender’s place of employment would be disclosed on a government website only if the individual had “unsupervised contact” with children. Currently, that information is available to the public when offenders can directly interact with kids while on of the job.

“It is unacceptable to allow sex offenders to work as janitors, assistant coaches and in other supervised positions around children without having to register their place of employment,” Martinez said.

Supporters had lauded other provisions that would require sex offenders to provide authorities with palm prints when they register with authorities and disclose their email addresses or identifying information used on social networking sites.

The governor also vetoed a proposal to raise a malpractice liability cap from $600,000 to $1 million, with the limit automatically adjusted for inflation.

“This increase in judgment amounts could lead to an increase in frivolous lawsuits, insurance rates and other high costs that would be passed on to patients and hospitals and discourage physicians from coming to our state,” Martinez said in her veto message.

She expressed support for a provision that would have covered doctor corporations in the state’s medical malpractice system.

Signed by the governor were bills to:

  • Allow Election Day vote centers, in which up to 10 precincts would have the same polling place. However, any voter from that county could cast a ballot at the vote center. Supporters say it could reduce election costs by having fewer polling places and should make voting more convenient.
  • Require textbook publishers to make their instructional materials available to schools in an electronic format, as well as in a printed form, starting with the 2013-2014 school years.
  • Permit people to donate unused prescription drugs to doctors, licensed clinics and health care facilities.
  • Update and standardize provisions of state election law, including moving the filing date for independent candidates to 21 days after the primary election rather than having it the day after the primary. Another change allows independents and minor party voters to serve as poll workers, which currently only Republicans and Democrats can do.

 

 


 

Thursday, 07 April 2011 12:20

 

Gov. Susana Martinez has signed legislation to stop governmental employees from taking a job with a contractor if the worker had participated in contracting with the business.

Martinez signed the measure into law on Thursday along with a host of other bills, including one to require textbook publishers to provide instructional materials to schools in an electronic format starting in the 2013-14 school year.

The governor vetoed several measures, including one that Martinez said would weaken some provisions of a state law requiring sex offender registration. The governor also vetoed a proposed increase in the cap on malpractice liability for physicians.

 

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