Delta Consulting & High-Risk Insurance Timeline

A Review of the Potential Corruption Plaguing New Mexico Politics 
and Our Elected Officials
Congressman Steve Pearce has launched an attack ad at Congresswoman Lujan Grisham concerning her company Delta Consulting, New Mexico’s High-Risk Pool, and her use of political influence with Ex-Governor Bill Richardson and while in Congress using her power to maintain contracts for her company Delta Consulting and subsequently profiting millions.

NMD4D has spoken with State, former Health Department and Delta Consulting employees, executives from the High-risk insurance pool, Politico and Democratic women’s political group Emerge to determine if Pearce’s ad has any merit.

What is the High-Risk pool?

New Mexico’s high-risk insurance pool was established in 1987. Forty-three states had high-risk pools until the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care). States created high-risk pools to cover at-risk patients that could not get insurance coverage due to pre-existing conditions. The New Mexico Insurance commission oversees the NM High-Risk Pool Board, made up of insurance executives and political appointees. Since Obama Care insurance companies can no longer deny health care coverage. Thirty-four states have disbanded their high-risk pools and moved patients over to ACA coverage where coverage is more affordable. 

New Mexico is one of a few states that continue to fund a High-Risk Pool. The high-risk pool membership has dropped from 8,500 to an estimated 2,400 patients today. At the same time, Delta Consulting fees have risen from $300,000 annually to estimated $4M annually. Delta Consulting was founded in 2008 and run by Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham and NM State Representative Debbie Armstrong.

WHAT WE KNOW

Timeline of High-Risk Pool & Delta Consulting

SENATOR TIM JENNINGS

1978-2012
Senator Tim Jennings (D) was elected to State Senate in 1978 and held Office until defeated in 2012. He held the position of Majority Whip in the NM State Senate and played a major role influencing NM Health Medical Board and High-Risk Pool.

PATTY JENNINGS

1990's
Patty Jennings (wife of Sen. Tim Jennings) was appointed to NM Medical Board and later awarded the contract to manage the High-Risk Pool in the 90’s. The state paid Patty Jennings $150,000+ annually. The high-risk pool overall operating budget was estimated at $300,000 annually.

SECRETARY OF HEALTH

2004-2007
Michelle Lujan Grisham was appointed Secretary of Health by Gov. Bill Richardson. Lujan Grisham hired Deborah Armstrong within Department of Health. Tim Jennings, Patty Jennings, Secretary of Health Lujan Grisham and Deborah Armstrong all collaborated on running the high-risk pool.

RESIGNATION

2007
Patty Jennings, who was managing the high-risk pool, entered into a significant public battle with then-Gov. Bill Richardson over a health insurance bill affecting the high-risk pool.  During this dispute, Lujan Grisham supported Patty Jennings. Shortly after, Lujan Grisham was asked to resign or was fired by Gov. Richardson.

NEW MANAGEMENT

2008
Patty Jennings fell terminally ill and turned over her contract to run the state’s high-risk pool to Lujan Grisham and Armstrong as they formed Delta Consulting, with approval from the high-risk pool Board, Sen. Jennings, and Gov. Richardson.

PATTY JENNINGS PASSES

2009

LOBBIED FOR MORE MONEY

2010
Lujan Grisham and Armstrong lobbied to amend New Mexico’s high-risk pool contract to establish a new pay scale. The new contract paid Delta Consulting on a per patient fee resulting in a $2 million annual cost to the NM high-risk pool vs. $300,000; most of which went to Delta Consulting.

LUJAN GRISHAM CONTINUES TO PROFIT

2010-2012
Lujan Grisham continued profiting off Delta Consulting as a Bernalillo County Commissioner, earning an estimated $225,000 per year from Delta Consulting.

CONGRESSIONAL & DELTA SALARY

2013
Lujan Grisham was elected to Congress and earned a salary paid by the Federal Government of $174,000 a year. In addition to this salary, Lujan Grisham reported $75,000 - $225,000 in additional income by Delta Consulting per year based on her tax returns. Delta Consulting and Pharmaceutical companies donate thousands of dollars to her campaigns. Rep. Debra Armstrong was also Campaign Treasure to Lujan Grisham Congressional races and Governor's race until 30 days ago.

DEBORAH ARMSTRONG

2013 - 2015
Congresswomen Lujan Grisham hired Armstrong as her NM congressional field director in ABQ – Armstrong was being paid by Federal Government and Delta Consulting over $350,000 annually. Both Armstrong and Grisham continued to establish other state non-profits, corporations and NM state PACs.

DEBORAH ARMSTRONG RUNS FOR STATE REP SEAT

2014
In 2014, Armstrong and Lujan Grisham pressured State Rep. Ed Sandoval not to run for re-election. Armstrong then ran for his seat and was elected with support from Lujan Grisham and Delta Consulting.

DECREASED ENROLLMENT, INCREASED FEES

2014- 2017
Between 2014, when Obamacare passed and 2017, Delta Consulting Group was paid more than $2 million annually by the NM High-Risk Pool. Annual payments increased despite enrollment dropping – enrollment went from 8,500 in 2013, to 2,400 in 2017 while Delta’s state contracts increased over $425,000 paying Delta Consulting over $2M annually.

ENSURING THE MONEY KEEPS FLOWING

2013 - 2016
From 2013 – 2016, Lujan Grisham earned between $165,000 - $350,000 annually from Delta according to congressional disclosure forms. Her first year in Congress, Grisham was investigated for ethics violations, using her influence to protect contracts for Delta. Lujan Grisham Introduced US House Bill: Health Care Choice & Affordability act to preserve and fund up to $5 billion in Federal Dollars to State High-Risk Pools. US House Democratic leaders describe plan wasteful as high-risk pools are no longer needed; meanwhile 34 states have closed these pools. Was Lujan Grisham trying to protect Delta Consulting at a federal level?

COVERING THE ANGLES WITH NMHHS

2016
In 2016, State Rep. Armstrong goes on to Chair the Health and Human Services committee for the state of NM, the committee with oversight on bills affecting Delta Consulting (her company), tabling many bills that affect the high-risk pool and Delta Consulting. Including a bill sponsored by Rep. Paul Bandy intended to curtail New Mexico’s high-risk insurance pool.

$43 MILLION & 10% HIGHER FEES

2017 - Present
In 2018, at a meeting just two months ago, the High-Risk Insurance board voted to change the status of the organization to nonprofit, so their contracts will not have to be reported as part of open government files.

Politico.com reported that the high-risk insurance pool costs New Mexico taxpayers $43 million annually—money that could have been saved if eligible patients were moved to Obamacare. Additionally, the insurance costs in the pool are at least 10% higher than on the open market, adding additional burden to those already suffering from their illness.

After speaking the Politico reporter NMD4D learned that the High Risk Pool did respond to Information of Public Records requests even after claiming the organization is not subject to state oversight.

DEMANDS BACKFIRE SHOWING YEARS OF INCOME

2017-2018
In 2017 and again in 2018, Lujan Grisham set a precedent for demanding candidates and party leaders to drop out when caught in a scandal. She demanded both State Sen. Michael Padilla drop out of the Lt. Governor’s race and Party Chair Richard Ellenberg resign for ethical violations.

2017 Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates were asked to release all tax returns for the last five years. Jeff Apodaca and Joseph Cervantes did so within a week. Lujan Grisham agreed under pressure to show she was paid over $400,000 in the last four years from Delta Consulting.

LUJAN GRISHAM SELLS DELTA CONSULTING INTEREST

2018
Lujan Grisham sells her 50% of Delta Consulting Jan. 2018 one year after announcing her candidacy for Governor.

LAWSUITS TO CONCEAL FINANCIAL DATA

2018
State Auditor Wayne Johnson asked for tax and financial recorders from the NM High Risk Insurance pool to conduct a full accounting audit of payments. State Auditor Wayne Johnson sues for records. NM High Risk Insurance Pool sues back to keep records sealed.

OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST


Ms. Reena Szczespanski- Chief of Staff for Speaker of the House Brian Egolf:

2017-Present: Controls bills what get on the floor of house to vote on
2013-2017: Ms. Szczespanski is CEO of Delta Consulting
2010-2016: Executive Director of Emerge (a political women’s group funded by Delta.  Ms. Szczespanski was being paid by both groups while funding comes from NM’s high-risk pool and state contracts
2013: Ms. Szczespanski was Executive Director of NM’s High-Risk Pool 

Deborah Armstrong
NM Secretary of State shows $62,643 in various campaign contributions from Deborah Armstrong of which $22,118 was given in 2018 alone.

Delta Consulting
NM Secretary of State shows $69,700 in various campaign contributions from Delta Consulting of which $35,600 was given in 2018 alone.

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