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Bernalillo County Health Safety Net Needs Repair

UNM Indigent Care Program Not Serving Thousands of Residents


The Problem:  

UNM Hospital’s safety-net program has holes.  Also, it’s ending soon - but it needs to be expanded, instead!  UNM Hospital operates a publicly-funded indigent care program – called UNM Care - that benefited 27,000 Bernalillo County residents in 2013 (note: as of March 2015 only 7,200 residents are enrolled). Thousands of low-income residents are excluded from UNMCare and sent to collections.

Under the Affordable Care Act, beginning January 2014, most people who previously used UNM Care are eligible for Medicaid or the NM Health Insurance Exchange.  Beginning in 2014 UNM Hospital Administrators plan is to use UNM Care funds to only subsidize residents who have applied for Medicaid or health insurance on the Exchange. Everyone else who is uninsured or not covered by other types of health plans will be left out of this assistance.


UNM Hospital’s plan will leave an estimated 60,000 uninsured residents uncovered and uncared for – including Native Americans and low-income county residents who cannot afford health insurance or who are not required to get health insurance under the law, for example because they are experiencing a hardship.

  • Most current UNM Hospital indigent care patients will go to Medicaid or the Exchange, freeing up funds for patients who fall through the cracks after healthcare reform;
  • But UNM Hospital’s plan won’t go to where there is the most need!


The Solution:  

We propose Bernalillo County use its authority to take more control over mill levy tax funds given to UNM Hospital, and assure affordable healthcare services for all low-income County residents.

Bernalillo County's lease agreement with UNM Hospital opened for renegotiation in 2014.  The lease agreement is an opportunity to strengthen our county health care safety net and require UNM Hospital Administrators to prioritize mill levy funds to ensure indigent care for all low-income residents.  Under state law, the county is not required to give all mill levy funds to UNMH; it can take control of 2.5 mills out of the 6.5 mills levied.  

We think the County should:

  • Direct UNMH to provide affordable healthcare at UNM Hospital and community clinics for all uninsured and underinsured residents living under 200% of the federal poverty level in Bernalillo County.  
  • Require that UNM Hospital make no referrals to collections for indigent patients;
  • Renegotiate the lease to regain control of a portion of the public funding to UNM Hospital to assure access to healthcare for medically indigent community members;
  • Establish a meaningful public planning process in decision-making about the county health safety net that includes community members in planning, assessment and decision-making.

Supporters & Endorsers - Join us!
(in progress!):  ABQ Center for Peace & Justice •  ACCESS •  AFSCME Council 18 • Agri-Cultura Network • American Federation of Teachers NM Retirees • Bernalillo County Place Matters • Casa de Salud • Centro Savila • Central NM Labor Council • Committee of Interns and Residents - SEIU / Healthcare • Communication Workers of America Local 7076 • District 1199 NM, National Union of Hospital & Healthcare Employees • East Central Ministries (One Hope Centro de Vida) • El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos • EleValle, South Valley Healthy Communities Collaborative • Encuentro • Granja Para Manana • Gray Panthers of Greater Albuquerque • Health Action NM • La Mesa Presbyterian Church • La Plazita Institute • Network of Health Professionals for a National Health Program, NM Chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program  • NM Alliance for Retired Americans • NM Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO • NM Health Equity Working Group • NM Forum for Youth in Community • NM Immigrant Law Center • NM Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice • NM Voices for Children • Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains • Project for NM Graduate Students of Color • Prosperity Works • Southwest Women's Law Center • Strong Families NM • Transgender Resource Center of NM • UNM Community Engagement Center • VIDA in Healthcare • YDI – Elev8 NM • Young Women United  


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