Bernalillo Board of County Commissioners:
I call on you to assure healthcare coverage for all county residents, and to use the UNM Hospital lease agreement and Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) as a foundation to achieve a well-designed system of healthcare for Bernalillo County. This is essential for a more vibrant and healthy community, public safety, and the economic security of all residents.
In March 2014 you unanimously passed a resolution that opened up the UNM Hospital lease agreement and stated:
- Bernalillo County voters support a county-wide “mill levy” tax to provide health care to county residents through UNM Hospital, Mental Health Center and clinics (UNMH); and,
- With mill levy funds UNMH currently operates an indigent care program called “UNM Care” that provides comprehensive healthcare benefits to over 26,000 county residents (note: less than 8,000 now!); and
- National experts estimate at least half of all uninsured patients will remain without coverage even after the ACA, leaving over 60,000 Bernalillo County residents uninsured; and
- Bernalillo County has increased mill levy funds to approximately $90 million dollars per year in order to meet UNMH’s indigent care expenses, operation of the Mental Health Center and the provision of behavioral and substance abuse treatment services; and,
- The Lease and Memorandum of Understanding renegotiation provide an opportunity to strengthen the healthcare safety net in Bernalillo County and ensure adequate behavioral health and substance abuse treatment services.
Your resolution created a healthcare task force to develop recommendations to assist in the lease renegotiations by developing a community-driven plan for meeting the healthcare needs in Bernalillo County, strengthening the healthcare safety net for Bernalillo County, and ensuring accountability for the use of taxpayer dollars towards healthcare.
The task force recommendations reflect the experience of organizations and individual community members. Therefore I strongly support the Bernalillo County Healthcare Task Force November 2014 recommendations to improve the health safety net:
- Assure Healthcare Coverage for All County Residents
- Meet Native American Healthcare Obligations
- Increase Availability of Behavioral Health Services
- Build an Integrated System of Primary Care and Navigation Support
- Provide Continuity of Care for Incarcerated People
- Increase County Oversight and Accountability for Mill Levy Funds
I urge you to incorporate these recommendations in the UNM hospital lease agreement and MOU that guide the use of county mill levy funds for the benefit of all Bernalillo County residents.