New Mexico Governor signs priority public health bills into law
Commentary: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday signed into law four significant public health bills designed to reduce the high cost of prescription drugs, develop more affordable health care insurance options and raise the legal age to purchase e-cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21.
House Bill 292 caps co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses for insulin at $25 per prescription for a 30-day supply – making them the lowest in the country. In the last decade, the list prices of common types of insulin have roughly tripled. Today, a quarter of American adults with diabetes say that price has impacted their insulin use, according to the American Diabetes Association.
“This law ends an unacceptable dilemma for thousands of New Mexicans with diabetes forced to choose between life-saving insulin and other expenses,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.
House Bill 292, sponsored by Rep. Micaela Cadena and Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto passed the House on a 61-2 vote and passed the Senate 40 to 1.
“I am proud to have sponsored House Bill 292 making sure all New Mexicans can afford the medicine they need to survive and thrive. Capping insulin copays is an effort to bring much-needed relief to families facing unconscionably high drug prices,” Cadena said.
Senate Bill 1 authorizes the New Mexico Department of Health to develop a plan making New Mexico one of the early states to apply for federal approval to import wholesale drugs from Canada. Vermont, Maine, Colorado and Florida have passed similar legislation, and other states are considering it. Under this new pathway, the federal government will approve only plans that guarantee the safety of the imported drugs for consumers and ensure that significant cost savings will be passed on to consumers.
“Prescription drugs from Canada on average cost 30 percent less than in the United States – this bill is another way we’re working to make medicine affordable. It creates a new pathway to help all New Mexico families and seniors who struggle to pay for medication,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.
Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Sen. Mary Kay Papen and Rep. Debbie Armstrong unanimously passed in both the state Senate and House.
“We are doing everything we can for New Mexicans to have access to lower-priced prescription drug medication because those who need the medication the most have the biggest difficulty paying for it,” Papen said.
House Bill 100 empowers beWellnm, the New Mexico health insurance exchange, to operate as a fully state-based exchange meeting the needs of families seeking health insurance coverage in New Mexico and promoting access to more affordable, higher-quality insurance plans. Additionally, it codifies key provisions of New Mexico state law so that no matter what happens to the Affordable Care Act, New Mexicans will continue to have a strong health insurance exchange and access to reasonable health insurance plans.
House Bill 100, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Armstrong and Rep. Micaela Cadena passed the House with a vote of 44 to 23 and the Senate 28 to 14.
“All New Mexicans need and deserve access to high quality, affordable health care with insurance plans that work for their family’s needs while being mindful of their budgets,” Armstrong said. “House Bill 100 demonstrates my commitment to fight for better healthcare outcomes and options for all the communities across the state.”
Senate Bill 131, regulates the manufacture, distribution and sale of tobacco products – raising the legal age for purchases of e-cigarette and other tobacco products from 18 to 21, aligning New Mexico law with recently passed federal law. In addition, it requires manufacturers, distributors and sellers of tobacco products – including e-cigarettes – to be licensed in New Mexico and subject to criminal penalties if they manufacture, distribute or sell tobacco products in the state without a license. Regulatory authority will go to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division of the Regulation and Licensing Department with enforcement falling to the Department of Public Safety. The licensing fees will go toward administrative and enforcement costs.
Senate Bill 131, sponsored by Sen. Linda Lopez, Sen. Gabriel Ramos, Rep. Elizabeth Thompson and Rep. Joanne Ferrary, passed the Senate by a vote of 28 to 11 and the House 40 to 28.
“Youth vaping has become an epidemic, with one in three New Mexico high school students using vaping products. Licensing and regulation will help us know who is selling tobacco products and give us the tools to enforce compliance and reduce the overall numbers of our youth using tobacco, e-cigarettes and e-liquid products. I’d like to thank Gov. Lujan Grisham and my co-sponsors in supporting this action to keep our young people safe and healthy,” Lopez said.
“It’s really important to me that we do everything we can to keep e-cigarettes and e-liquids away from young people, and regulation will be a good mechanism to do just that,” Ramos said. “Too many kids are getting sick from these products.”