- Associated Press - Saturday, March 26, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The state won’t be relying on the University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center and its $200 million in reserves for help covering Medicaid funding.

UNM refused a request last month to give $50 million to New Mexico’s Human Services Department to help with Medicaid, university officials said.

University officials heard the request at a meeting in mid-February, UNM executive vice president David Harris told the Albuquerque Journal (http://bit.ly/1UQNVd7). However, the state indicated it could not guarantee repayment. Health Sciences Chancellor Paul Roth, who was among those at the meeting, said he wanted to help but couldn’t do anything immediately, according to Harris.

Roth declined to comment about the meeting between UNM and the state and deferred questions to Harris.

It is not unusual for the state to turn to its largest university for help. “It’s important to understand this is not the first time this has ever occurred,” Harris said of the state asking UNM for financial assistance.

Documents obtained by the newspaper show the Health Science Center agreed last year to transfer $5.8 million in funds.

Human Services Department spokesman Kyler Nerison confirmed the meeting with the university. “HSC declined the request and the discussion ended,” Nerison said.

During the legislative session, Human Services officials projected the department was $86 million short of the funds needed for the next 15 months. When taking into account that the federal government matches between $3 and $4 for every dollar the state uses on Medicaid, the gap rises to $417 million.

Enrollment in Medicaid expansion in New Mexico has exceeded expectations. About 850,000 have enrolled since early March, according to the state.

In an earlier draft of a House budget bill, the UNM Hospital had agreed to transfer $20 million to the state for Medicaid expenses. But the bill didn’t specify from which agency the money would be drawn. Health Sciences Center spokesman Billy Sparks said the money has not been transferred or included in the Human Services Department budget.

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com

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