|By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
After securing a
An estimated 73,000 New Mexicans were predicted to sign up for a state exchange in 2014. About 250,000 could be eligible to use the exchange from 2014 to 2020.
But time is running out and now the process has been bogged down in a political dispute over how the exchange should work.
As of Monday, no contracts had been awarded and the state never applied for the
And a Democratic legislative effort to quickly approve a state-run exchange with a different focus than proposed by the administration has stalled on the House floor.
Three weeks of private negotiations earlier in the legislative session between the administration and health care advocates on a compromise bill "basically broke down," Rep.
The Martinez administration favors an exchange that "would be more of an Amazon. com style approach to shopping for insurance ... purchase, click and buy," according to a legislative analysis.
But health care advocates and many Democrats back an exchange that would act on behalf of enrollees in selecting eligible insurance plans and offer more consumer outreach.
"It comes down to a free market exchange versus an active purchaser exchange,"
With the more minimalist approach favored by the administration, he said, "People would be buying policies they're unhappy with and the subsidies will be wasted."
The negotiations did lead to a compromise on the makeup of a governing board for an exchange.
Advocates sought to eliminate the influence of private insurance companies in the entity proposed by the Martinez administration to oversee the exchange.
They were backed by the office of Attorney General
King's office in a December opinion said the dominance of the insurance industry on the proposed exchange board of directors violated the Affordable Care Act's provisions on conflict of interest.
The Martinez administration had turned over responsibility for operating the exchange to a little-known entity called the
Members of the Alliance are by law "all insurance companies authorized to transact health insurance business in the state," according to the AG's opinion. State law establishes its governing board as a combination of insurance company representatives, small employers and their employees.
The makeup is such that the insurance industry could exercise majority control if some vacancies occur in the non-insurance-related seats, according to the AG opinion. That would violate the Affordable Care Act, it concluded.