HUMAN SERVICES DEPARTMENT NEWS
Matched with federal dollars will help lift the lives of nearly half of New Mexicans
New Mexico Human Services Secretary Dr. David R. Scrase said Friday his department is seeking $1.130 billion to leverage an additional $6.737 billion in federal dollars to help nearly half of the state’s residents through the unprecedented COVID-19 public health crisis. Dr. Scrase made the request in his testimony before the Legislative Finance Committee while presenting his department’s fiscal year 2022 budget request.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented public health crisis and necessitated emergency measures. HSD applied for multiple COVID-19 program related federal waivers to expand our access and provide urgently needed healthcare, cash and food assistance,” said Dr. Scrase. “The department projects to leverage more than $1.487 billion in additional Medicaid federal revenue to help needy New Mexicans during this crisis through March of 2021.”
The Human Services Department combined state and federal funded budget request of $7.866 billion reflects the budgetary and socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19. The department reduced the general fund request by more than 5 percent in certain areas, however it proposes a $44.18 million increase in general fund for the Medicaid and Children Health Insurance Program and preserves the information technology budget by decreasing expenses in all other divisions. The Human Services Department provides services and benefits to more than 1 million New Mexicans through several programs including: the Medicaid Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Child Support Program, and several Behavioral Health Services.
During this worldwide pandemic, the agency’s request proposes strategic investments that will provide health coverage for over 900,000 New Mexicans through the Medicaid program and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Medicaid is the largest health care payer in the state of New Mexico. It has grown by 65,000 New Mexicans who have enrolled in the program since February 2020. Medicaid enrollment is projected to grow up to 917,000 residents by March 2021.
“The $996.4 million general fund investment in Medicaid brings $5.532 billion federal dollars to New Mexico,” said Dr. Scrase. “A pretty good return on your investment that’s going to fund healthcare providers who provide services for over 900,000 vulnerable New Mexicans.”
The technology budget request is flat from the prior fiscal year and represents the high priority on informational technology to reduce overall costs, improve operational efficiencies and to better serve over one-million New Mexicans who utilize human services programs. The $15.5 million general fund technology investment garners a $30.9 million federal match.
“The technology investments in infrastructure, applications and new projects will deliver new capabilities and services to the department’s more than one-million customers and 1,730 employees,” said Dr. Scrase.
HHS 2020 MMISR Project
The Health and Human Services (HHS) 2020 initiative contains multiple projects, including the Medicaid Management Information System Replacement (MMISR) is designed to create a “one-stop shop” — whether online, on the phone, or in an office. The public will have a single point of contact to access resources and services for any health and human services agency, benefit or program. The Aging and Long-Term Services Department, Children, Youth, and Families Department, Department of Health, and the Early Childhood Education and Care Department are all participating in the HHS 2020 MMISR project. The federal government provides 90 percent enhanced funding for the MMISR project. The $1.208 million general fund investment has a $10.812 federal match.
Behavioral Health Services Division
The $45.6 million general fund behavioral health investment has a $19.8 federal match. The division’s focus is on building a new behavioral health care system in New Mexico through its various programs.
Recently the division partnered with the state Indian Affairs Department, the Navajo Nation and 15 pueblos to publish the Stoodis NM Coloring Book, which is slang for “let’s do this, New Mexico,” to teach children the dangers of COVID-19 through the cartoons and speech bubbles of a coloring book. Each tribal community received coloring books for distribution.
The division was recently awarded two federal grants: $6 million from the Department of Justice to support those impacted by illicit opioids, stimulants and other drugs and, $3.6 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to address the growing behavioral health needs of individuals experiencing homelessness and justice-involved population impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The division also provided funding for a new free online digital resource, the 5-Actions Program™, for New Mexicans struggling with substance abuse or behavioral addictions.
Child Support Enforcement Division
The $7.7 million child support general fund budget request has an $23.5 million federal match. Last month the division launched an initiative that allows noncustodial parents to make child support payments online with a credit or debit card or using an electronic check from their bank account. The program collected $156 million in child support payments last year.
Income Support Division
Income support provides services to New Mexicans through several programs including food Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and other various programs. The $46.9 million general fund request is also supported by $1,037.44 billion in federal funds.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides food assistance for 491,705 New Mexicans and is 100 percent federal funded. Since March of 2020, SNAP households have received the maximum food benefit. The Pandemic-EBT program has compensated 513,000 students ($5.70) per meal for free or reduced-price school meals that they missed during remote learning. These increases were made to help reduce food insecurity for New Mexicans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The SNAP federal budget is $778. 2 million.
The Human Services Department budget request focuses on providing health and needed human services programs to address the critical and dire needs of individuals and families across New Mexico during the unpresented COVID-19 public health crisis that has impacted nearly every aspect of life for people in New Mexico and throughout the world.