New Mexico Candidate for Governor Profited From Controversial Health Insurance Plans

May 31, 2018

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, the leading Democratic candidate for governor in New Mexico, profited from the state’s use of a high-priced health-insurance program for seriously ill patients, even after Obamacare made such programs virtually obsolete.

As most states were shuttering their subsidized health-insurance programs for people with pre-existing conditions because they could get coverage through Obamacare, a firm co-founded by Lujan Grisham and a close political ally received millions of dollars to run New Mexico’s program, even as she served in Congress.

The state’s high risk pool is still open even though its premiums are higher on average than Obamacare — 10 percent higher this year — and while all but nine of the 35 states that once had such programs either shut them down or cut off new enrollment. It also continued despite efforts by New Mexico Republicans to curtail the program.

Lujan Grisham, who is facing two rivals for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in next Tuesday’s primary, founded the Delta Consulting Group along with Debbie Armstrong, a longtime political ally and the treasurer of her gubernatorial campaign, in 2008, as both were leaving Cabinet positions under former Gov. Bill Richardson.

In 2009, the firm received the state contract to run the high-risk pool under a competitive-bid process. Between 2014, when Obamacare took effect, and 2017, Delta Consulting Group was paid more than $2 million to run the program, according to contracts POLITICO obtained through a public records request. Its annual payments increased to more than $600,000, even as enrollment dropped.

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