Transforming Medicaid in New Mexico to Alleviate Poverty
Turquoise Care focuses on whole-person wellness and will improve access to healthcare for low-income New Mexicans
January is National Poverty Awareness Month, a time to be aware of the poverty that many New Mexicans live with. It’s important to bring attention to the poverty crisis because poverty can affect mental health, education, literacy, physical health and hunger. New Mexico has been consistently ranked as one of the states with the highest levels of poverty in the country. Poor access to healthcare and behavioral health services can add to poverty. To combat this, the State’s Medicaid plan will soon be known as Turquoise Care—a more robust system of care to support the whole person.
Last year, the poverty rate was at about 19%. The rate is even higher for children, with 28% of children under age 5 currently living in poverty and 25% of children under age 18 living in poverty. This means that thousands of New Mexicans still cannot afford to buy enough food to feed their families, find housing, get needed healthcare, purchase warm clothing in winter or pay their bills.
The New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) has multiple programs designed to help people with supplemental income, food assistance, healthcare, utility bills, rent and more. In the last year, the HSD was able to provide:
- Over 500 million meals to families through the Supplemental Nutritional Food Assistance Program (SNAP).
- Almost 1 million people with Medicaid so they could visit a doctor, receive immunizations and afford their medication.
- Over 6,000 New Mexico homes with cooling and heating through their Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP).
- Over 13,000 families with shelter and necessities through their Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF).
- At least $124 in child support payments every month for parents who needed it.
- Nearly 25,000 extremely low-income households with payments of $400 in economic relief through a partnership with the Taxation and Revenue Department.
- Behavioral healthcare services to over 200,000 adults with Medicaid-covered treatment and support.
New Mexico residents can visit their website to check their eligibility for each program and apply for benefits.
The Behavioral Health Services Division of the NM Human Services Department (BHSD) works with HSD services to give New Mexicans culturally informed services and care, including comprehensive behavioral healthcare. Not everyone in New Mexico has the same access to care, and BHSD has been partnering with other agencies to provide supportive services to people who are experiencing crisis situations, and to get them the care they need. New Mexicans who are affected by chronic pain, domestic violence, drugs and alcohol and other emergency situations have been helped by BHSD/HSD programs.
Next January, Medicaid will become “Turquoise Care to improve people’s experience with their medical care and to improve the services covered under Medicaid plans. By doing this, the state hopes to achieve better health outcomes and support the overall well-being of the nearly 1 Million New Mexicans who are enrolled.
To see positive health outcomes, it is important to transform the way medical care is delivered to New Mexico’s residents. Parents with children, children in foster care, elders, those with multiple chronic conditions, people with serious mental illness or substance use disorders, individuals experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity and those with experience in the justice system are at the highest risk of experiencing significant healthcare inequalities. Our state needs a a whole-person care program that not only takes physical and behavioral health into consideration but also the economic and social conditions that influence differences in health, like housing and food.
For the last four years, the Medicaid program has helped improve program benefits, provider payments, and access to care. Under Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s leadership, HSD has invested over $800 million in increased provider rates, extended postpartum coverage to 12 months, worked to eliminate the waitlist for developmentally disabled services, removed asset tests that create barriers for older adults, implemented home visiting programs for pregnant people, processed over 6,000 Medicaid provider enrollment applications and added reimbursement of Adult Accredited Residential Treatment Center services.
Some of the new initiatives in the renewal application include expanding:
- Continuous Medicaid coverage for New Mexico children up to age six.
- Home visiting programs to help families achieve healthy pregnancies, births, and newborns.
- Emergency housing support following an inpatient or ER visit.
- Supportive housing programs to provide safe and stable housing to at-risk individuals.
- Access to home-delivered meals to meet nutrition needs.
- Guaranteed Medicaid coverage for incarcerated individuals 30 days prior to release.
- Home and Community Based (HCBS) Community Benefit enrollment opportunities to help more New Mexicans maintain independence and personal choice.
- Investment in a statewide system that connects healthcare providers and community organizations that support health equity by improving access to care.
- A first-of-its-kind, member-directed traditional healing benefit for Native American communities.
To read more about the New Mexico Medicaid renewal plan, click here.
If you are currently experiencing poverty, food insecurity or homelessness or require mental health support with navigating any of these challenges, visit our Resource Page and find a list of local New Mexico organizations that can help. While much is being done across multiple state departments to identify and work towards eradicating systemic poverty, each of us can also take the pledge to spend the month of January talking to our friends, families, neighbors and co-workers about the importance of poverty awareness and measures we can take to advocate for those in need. Together, we can take a dose of wellness and build healthy, thriving communities.
The Human Services Department wants to ensure uninterrupted access to the benefits available. The easiest way to do this is to make sure contact information is up to date on the YESNM Portal: www.yes.state.nm.us. Users can simply and easily update their address using the chat functionality there. Step-by-step directions on how to update your address are available here. Individuals seeking to apply for or check their SNAP benefits may apply online through www.yes.state.nm.us or by phone at 1-800-283-4465
We talk, interpret, and smile in all languages. We provide written information to our customers in both English and Spanish, and interpretation services are available in 58 languages through our provider, CTS Language Link. For our hearing, and speech impaired customers, we utilize Relay New Mexico, a free 24-hour service that ensures equal communication access via the telephone to individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or speech disabled.
The Human Services Department provides services and benefits to 1,088,981 New Mexicans through several programs including: the Medicaid Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Child Support Program, and several Behavioral Health Services.
New Mexico Human Services Department Behavioral Health Services Division (BHSD)
YES New Mexico Benefits Portal: This is your portal to quickly and easily apply, check, update, or renew for a variety of public assistance programs. Create an account now to apply for and access your status for various benefits like Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, and LIHEAP.
The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty is dedicated to enhancing economic social justice through education advocacy & litigation.