Eliminating Barriers to Public Benefits

Hatten-Gonzales v. Sec. of HSD

As a result of NMCLP’s litigation and advocacy, the State of New Mexico is now taking corrective action to make it easier for all eligible people to access their food and healthcare benefits and stay enrolled in the programs.

NMCLP uncovered long-standing illegal practices in the state’s processing of SNAP and Medicaid applications, including falsifying applications to disqualify clients from receiving emergency food benefits, failing to provide adequate assistance to clients with disabilities, and refusing to provide translation and interpreting in the languages used by all of our communities. In response, a federal judge appointed a third-party expert to hold the state accountable for properly administering these programs.

  • Thousands of  people per month receive expedited food assistance because the state improved how it screens for and delivers emergency food assistance to clients who are most at risk for hunger, bringing the Human Services Department into compliance with federal law and providing expedited SNAP benefits to thousands of New Mexicans in dire need. 
  • The state suspended the automatic, computerized denial of benefits cases, so that cases were  no longer denied or closed until a caseworker reviewed them.
  • The state re-wrote all client notices to be individualized, accurate, and easy to read, as required by federal law. These notices are sent to over one million clients each year.
  • The state rewrote all of its administrative regulations for Medicaid and SNAP to bring them into compliance with federal law. 

NMCLP advocacy affected policies that impact access to healthcare and food assistance for the one in three New Mexicans who are enrolled in Medicaid and the one in five New Mexicans who are enrolled in SNAP.