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Tribal Health Advocates Watch Centennial Care Opt-Out Bill Advance

A bill that would remove the mandatory requirement that Native American Medicaid recipients enroll in a state run managed care program is now heading to the Senate.

Centennial Care, New Mexico’s planned Medicaid program, would require all Medicaid users to enroll with one of four managed care organizations (MCO) contracted with the state.

Under the program, the Indian Health Service, as well as Tribal and urban clinics, would have to bill those same MCO’s for services provided, instead of going directly to the state for reimbursement.

Evelyn Blanchard is an organizer with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. She says past efforts by the state to implement similar programs have been detrimental to tribes.

“Our history with managed care is extremely poor,” says Blanchard. “They don’t pay their bills, they don’t understand our delivery system, and we cannot maintain this and provide good services to our people nor develop in the future unless we are able to prevail in this argument.”

House Bill 376 passed the house on a 60-to-7 vote. It must now clear at least two Senate committees and the Senate before it goes to the governor’s desk. All 22 of New Mexico’s Pueblos, Tribes and Nations are backing the bill.

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