Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

New Mexico enacts health reforms, licenses tobacco retailers

SANTA FE (AP)- New Mexico’s governor signed a bevy of health-related bills Wednesday that include consumer financial protections to ensure access to insulin for diabetics and new possibilities for state-marketed insurance plans that limit out-of-pocket costs.

Among four bills signed by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, one caps prices paid by diabetes patients for insulin prescriptions at $25 for a one-month supply.

Bill sponsor and Democratic Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto of Albuquerque described the state subsidy as cost-effective because it avoids crippling or life-threatening consequences for diabetics who forgo insulin when they can’t afford to buy it.

Other signed legislation opens the way for New Mexico to pursue imports of prescription drugs from Canada on a wholesale basis in search of cost savings. Opioids are excluded amid an epidemic of addiction and deadly overdoses.

President Donald Trump has said he wants to allow states to import many brand-name drugs from Canada, with federal oversight. It is unclear when the plans might come to fruition.

Lujan Grisham also approved legislation that expands the authority of the state’s health insurance exchange to design benefit plans as it exits a federal partnership in 2022. That could include standardized plans that limit out-of-pocket costs.

The board of the New Mexico exchange “could mandate offerings of plans that are structured in a different way to make them more affordable and accessible,” said Rep. Deborah Armstrong, the bill’s co-sponsor.

The governor also signed legislation aimed at stricter oversight of tobacco sales to help enforce a new federal ban on sales to people under 21. Vaping shops and other tobacco retail outlets in New Mexico will be licensed and regulated by the state.

The new law allows for license suspensions and penalties of up to $10,000 against tobacco retailers for underage sales. A license can be revoked permanently at a location after four violations within three years.

Unlicensed sales would be handled as a misdemeanor criminal offense. Sales between people under the age of 21 would not be penalized.

Fewer than a dozen states forgo retail licenses for tobacco sales.

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