Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Counties seek changes to lessen indigent funding burden

Staff writer

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New Mexico counties, including Roosevelt, have made changing the state’s Safety Net Care Pool (SNCP) system to fund indigent health care a priority in their legislative “wish list” through the New Mexico Association of Counties.

The SNCP was passed into law by the 2014 Legislature and replaced the voluntary Sole Community Provider program that provided funds for hospitals to help pay for Medicaid, Medicare and indigent patients.

The Sole Community Provider program also once provided a federal match of $3 for every $1 returned to the counties by the state, based on costs incurred to treat patients.

Severe cuts in the federal funds available for matching, however, led the state's Human Service Department to develop the SNCP in late 2012.

Under the current SNCP program, every county dedicates an amount equivalent to one-twelfth of 1 percent of taxable gross receipts to the indigent care fund.

The funds then go to qualifying hospitals under an agreement with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which allocates the federal matching funds, but on a system that has made the matching amounts unpredictable.

Under the new law, county officials said, counties do not know how much money they will be getting back from the state.

With the Sole Community Provider program, however, they said, they knew exactly what amount they would get back.

Curry and Roosevelt counties have passed ordinances to register their protests. The ordinances say the SNCP law imposes an unfunded mandate and places the burden upon the counties and their residents.

Roosevelt County commissioners have supported proposed legislation by the NMAC that would require the state to fully fund SNCP and relieve the counties of responsibility to pay for SNCP by 2018.

New Mexico State Rep. Dennis Roch said at the next legislative session he wants to see a balanced approach to the funding.

“I believe counties should support their local hospitals, but the state should also help in the funding. I believe in a balanced approach,” Roch said.

Roch said it is important to ensure the SNCP is fully funded.

“It would be devastating for our local hospitals to not be fully funded,” Roch said.