Russell Toal, NM Superintendent of Insurance

Air Dates: June 13-15, 2020

RUSSELL TOAL, Superintendent of Insurance for New Mexico

REMINDER: All COVID-19 Testing & Treatment Is FREE In New Mexico!

June 11, 2020 – This week's guest on REPORT FROM SANTA FE is Russell Toal, Superintendent of Insurance for New Mexico, discussing the many ways his office is protecting New Mexicans from problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic covering health insurance issues, telemedicine coverage, automobile insurance rebates, business insurance, and credit protection.

Superintendent Toal enumerates all the ways the Insurance department provides assistance with COVID-19 issues, starting with the COVID Call Center, the prohibition of "surprise billing" for out-of-network COVID care and testing, and the strong telemedicine reimbursement for physicians and health care providers for physical and mental health video visits. He reminds us that all COVID-19 testing and treatment is FREE in New Mexico. Many of the calls on the COVID hotline are from people who were forced to pay for coronavirus testing, and are asking for help with their reimbursements. The Department also has a strong Anti-Fraud Division.

Other pandemic protections supported by the Superintendent of Insurance include the suspension of health plan cancellations due to the insureds' inability to pay, providing credit protections during the pandemic, and providing regulations that insurers covering businesses affected by COVID shutdowns make adjustments and/or reduce the premiums charged for the time when the businesses were ordered to be closed. The Office has worked to provide automobile insurance rebates for New Mexican drivers, requiring auto insurance companies to reduce premiums because of the reduction in driving during the "stay at home" period ordered by state government.

Toal provides an explanation of the Prior Authorization Act, an important change that will increase timeliness and efficiency in Insurance companies' handling of physician orders for patient treatment, services, and prescriptions.

Prior to becoming the Superintendent of Insurance, Russell Toal was appointed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and served as Deputy Cabinet Secretary for the New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD), a department that serves approximately 1 million New Mexicans and has a budget of more than $7 billion. Toal had previously worked for the New Mexico Medical Assistance Division (MAD)) at HSD from 2014-2017.

Before relocating to New Mexico in 2014, Toal served as Director of the Georgia Southern University College of Public Health’s Center for Rural Health and Research, which aided safety net providers and district health departments. Toal was a Clinical Associate Professor in Health Policy and Management at the Institute of Public Health of Georgia State University.