Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham earned more from her role as co-owner of the company that runs New Mexico’s high-risk insurance program than she stated on her congressional financial disclosure forms for 2013, according to a review of the report and newly released tax returns.
In annual financial disclosures required for members of Congress, Lujan Grisham initially reported receiving between $50,001 and $100,000 in dividends in 2013 from the Delta Consulting Group, which she co-founded in 2008 with a political ally who went on to get elected to the New Mexico Legislature. But her tax returnsshow she earned nearly $138,000 in so-called “passive income” from the company that year.
A spokesperson for her office said the discrepancy was “an honest mistake” and a letter was sent to the House Clerk to amend the 2013 financial disclosure.
Lujan Grisham’s tax returns, released just days before she faces two Democratic opponents in the gubernatorial primary, provide a more precise and up-to-date window into her earnings. Between 2013 and 2017, she reported roughly $376,000 in income from Delta.
Critics contend that New Mexico kept its high-risk pool open, even though Obamacare offers similar coverage at a lower cost, because of the clout of Lujan Grisham and her co-owner, Debbie Armstrong. Both Lujan Grisham and Armstrong deny playing roles in the state’s decision to maintain the pool.
Lujan Grisham sold her 50 percent stake in the firm last June, six months after she announced she would run to succeed outgoing Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. Armstrong is now the sole owner of the company.
New Mexico’s high-risk pool continues to cover roughly 2,400 people with serious medical conditions and is one of only nine such state programs that still accepts new enrollment. The program was created in 1987 when, as in many other states, officials aimed to provide a lifeline to the sick before insurers were barred from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. But critics question why it should remain open now that Obamacare has opened the door for people with pre-existing conditions to receive coverage in the private market.
The pool is a major part of Delta’s business, but its other clients include a nonprofit with ties to Democratic politics and various health-care lobbying organizations. Backers of the high-risk pool in New Mexico say it should remain open partly because removing all enrollees who qualify for Obamacare coverage could cause price spikes in the broader insurance market.