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Many New Mexico residents to no longer qualify for Medicaid

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New Mexico is bracing for a rapid exodus of up to 100,000 people from subsidized Medicaid health care next year as the federal government phases out special pandemic-era spending and eligibility for the program, the state’s top health official told lawmakers Wednesday.

State health and welfare officials say the federal government appears likely but not certain to declare an end to its COVID-19 public health emergency in January, curtailing enrollment in Medicaid and leaving a $167 million annual gap in state general fund finances.

A legislative panel on Wednesday met to weigh the consequences. The Biden administration plans to give states 60-days notice before making the move.

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At that point, Health and Human Services Secretary David Scrase said between 85,000 and 100,000 residents are no longer likely to qualify for Medicaid because of increased earnings as they rejoin the workforce. He said a reduction in supplemental assistance for food may also drive people back into the workforce and off Medicaid.

“We knew this would be coming some day and now it is becoming a part of our budget,” Scrase said.

New Mexico Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase discusses health care plans amid the pandemic during an online meeting on Dec. 8, 2020.

New Mexico Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase discusses health care plans amid the pandemic during an online meeting on Dec. 8, 2020.
(AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

State insurance regulators are preparing to help residents make the transition to insurance policies on the state’s health insurance exchange with a plan to waive the first monthly charge, according to a policy briefing from the Legislature’s accountability and budget office.

The state has a new stream of tax dollars dedicated to underwriting health-exchange insurance offerings for low- and moderate-income individuals, along with employees at small businesses.

It comes from a new 2.75% tax on health insurance premiums — the upfront payments made on behalf of an individual or family to keep insurance active.

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New Mexico residents flocked to Medicaid insurance — for people living in poverty or on the cusp — during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the federal government temporarily boosted reimbursements to medical providers and extended eligibility for patients.

New Mexico officials say the state has the nation’s highest rate of enrollment in Medicaid, and its companion Children’s Health Insurance Program, with a June 2022 caseload of roughly 970,000 people out of 2.1 million state residents.

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New Mexico is among the states around the country that have made it easier for new moms to keep Medicaid in the year after childbirth, a time when depression and other health problems can develop.

Scrase said the state hopes to soon provide continuous Medicaid enrollment for qualified children, to avoid intermittent lapses in enrollment that can interfere with regular medical checkups and immunizations. He said New Mexico would be the second state to adopt the practice.



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Nord Stream: Sweden finds new leak in Russian gas pipeline

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The EU says the leaks are caused by sabotage and promises the “strongest possible response”.



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Poland tightened abortion laws. It didn't count on where help would come from next

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It’s early evening in an affluent neighborhood in the Dutch city of Haarlem and bed and breakfast owners Arnoud and Marika are waiting for their next guest to arrive. They’ve prepared their single room for her, a brightly colored space with massive windows overlooking a leafy drive.



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Austria to begin checks at border crossings with Slovakia to stop migrants

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Austria announced Wednesday that it will start checks at its border crossings with Slovakia, following a similar decision by the Czech Republic, in a move that’s aimed at keeping migrants from entering.

The measure becomes effective at midnight Wednesday, the Austrian government said.

The Austrian interior ministry said the border controls are a response to the Czech Republic’s announcement, a day earlier, of controls on its border with Slovakia starting Thursday, and aim to ensure that human traffickers do not use Austria as an alternative.

“We have to react before the smugglers react,” Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner told public broadcaster ORF.

Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia all belong to the European Union’s visa-free Schengen zone where people can normally cross borders without getting checked. However, temporary border controls have repeatedly been reinstated in the past, whether to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic or to stop migrants from entering illegally.

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Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer told reporters later on Wednesday that he would meet Hungarian President Viktor Orban and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic next week to discuss the issue of migration.

“The states are not doing this for their own sake, but to fight organized crime and smuggling and to reduce the pressure from the borders,” Nehammer said in Vienna.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, above, addresses the media during a joint press conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Vienna, Austria, on July 28, 2022. Austria announced that it will start checks at its border crossings with Slovakia in a move aimed at keeping migrants from entering.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, above, addresses the media during a joint press conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Vienna, Austria, on July 28, 2022. Austria announced that it will start checks at its border crossings with Slovakia in a move aimed at keeping migrants from entering.
(AP Photo/Theresa Wey, File)

Austria introduced controls along its borders with Hungary and Slovenia in 2015, when more than 1 million migrants from war-torn countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan entered the European Union. The Alpine country has repeatedly extended those controls, which remain in place.

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Back then, only about 8,500 migrants were detained in the Czech Republic, while this year so far 12,000 migrants have been detained, the Czech interior ministry said, adding that most of them were Syrians. A total of 125 human smugglers have been arrested in the Czech Republic this year, a significant increase compared with the previous years.

Most migrants don’t want to stay in the Czech Republic or Slovakia, but travel through them to reach wealthier places like Germany, Sweden or Austria.

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The Austrian border controls will initially be enforced at 11 crossing to Slovakia for 10 days.



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