President Russell Begaye speaks with N.M. Gov. Susana Martinez about tribal infrastructure and the Navajo Managed Care Organization.
Published February 6, 2018
SANTA FE – President Russell Begaye met with New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez last week to discuss infrastructure on the Navajo Nation and the initiative to establish a Navajo Managed Care Organization (MCO).
“We are fortunate for our Native American folks to be in New Mexico because of the relationship and partnership between our people and the state,” President Begaye said. “We’re really excited with what’s happening with the capital outlay projects and with what will happen with the Managed Care Organization. That’s going to make us more independent in terms of health care.”
The Navajo MCO Task Force has worked with the state of New Mexico to establish an MCO under New Mexico’s Centennial Care 2.0 Program. As part of a process that requires timeliness and collaboration, the the New Mexico Human Services Department asked the Navajo Nation to complete a request for information (RFI), which will be submitted within a few weeks. In return, and to maintain the MCO’s current timeline, Gov. Martinez was asked to ensure a fast turn-around response from New Mexico.
The Begaye-Nez administration and the Navajo MCO Task Force have set the ball rolling to create the first Native American MCO in the country. An MCO is essentially a health care insurance company.
With its own healthcare insurance company, the Navajo Nation will have greater control over Navajo healthcare systems. It can provide coverage for needs that are specific to Navajo, such as access to traditional healers, assistance with the cost of transportation and more. In addition, the added revenue redirected from facilities off the Navajo Nation will be reinvested into improving the health care system for the Navajo people.
“The MCO is the best way for us to raise the quality of care on Navajo and to be competitive,” President Begaye said. “We have the capacity, the infrastructure and the people to run our own, strong system.”
Gov. Martinez also was asked to continue supporting Navajo capital outlay projects that have been largely successful over the past few years. Funding for capital outlay projects is provided upfront by the Navajo Nation and is reimbursed by the state of New Mexico upon completion.
Mark Freeland, executive staff assistant for the Office of the President and Vice President, has taken the lead to manage the capital outlay projects.
“Today the Navajo Nation is in a better position than when the administration first started,” Freeland said. “We want to advocate, educate and promote the progress of the capital outlay projects and continue our partnership with New Mexico to build more infrastructure. Particularly, we want more basic infrastructure to provide water, electricity and bathroom needs for our people.”
To date, under the Begaye-Nez Administration, the Navajo Nation has completed about 78 capital outlay projects, amounting to about $14 million dollars in reimbursements.