Healthcare is complex and coverage still more complex. Today’s post describes how much New Mexicans have benefited from Obamacare, describes the New Mexico version of a single-payer plan to be introduced (yet again) in the Roundhouse, as well as a number of health-related bills Retake supports and an excellent summary of how a bill moves through the Roundhouse.
Today’s blog will focus on health justice. But first one quick action announcement:
Santa Fe City Council, 200 Lincoln Ave. Wednesday, Jan 11, 7pm. Please come to offer two minutes of Public Comment asking that the City Council terminate its fiscal agent relationship with Wells Fargo. Cities including Seattle, Minneapolis, Portland, Philadelphia and Boulder are already taking steps to divest from banks supporting DAPL. Click here for information about the national #DeFundDaPL. This is the kind of boycott that could be conducted city-by-city and in relation to different issues. Given that most cities in America are progressive, this strategy is one that can be effectively utilized even during the Trump administration.
Santa Fe County closed its Wells Fargo account in 2016. “Now the City of Santa Fe should do the same,” said Bianca Sopoci-Belknap, director of Earth Care. “Councilors Renee Villarreal, Joseph Maestas, Peter Ives, Chris Rivera, Signe Lindell, we’re looking to you all to help make it happen. We know with your visionary leadership it’s possible to end our contract with Wells Fargo and bank with a more worthy institution even while we examine the public banking option and make sure we do that right.” Please come prepared to speak or just bring signs (without sticks) to indicate your position #DeFundDaPL. I am looking for someone who can offer to volunteer to coordinate speakers on Wednesday night as Roxanne and I have a conflict. If you can do this, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It really should be easy. Our videographer, Andy Fertal will be on hand to videotape the event.
The Affordable Care Act, Single Payer Medicare for All, & New Mexico’s Health Security Plan
For many decades Americans have sought a more equitable, accessible healthcare system. During his first term, President Clinton created a commission chaired by his wife seeking to create healthcare reform. Lobbyists from the health plan, pharmaceutical, and insurance industries undermined the process and the plan that emerged was so flawed it wasn’t even supported by a Democratically controlled Congress. Fast forward to President Obama and the Affordable Care Act. Many would criticize the ACA as being comprised of far too many concessions to the same industries and lobbyists that undermined President Clinton’s efforts. But as this U.S., Health and Human Services study reveals—click here, New Mexicans benefited enormously from the ACA. Click here for the US Health and Human Services analysis of each of the 32 states that expanded Medicaid and participated in the ACA. It isn’t just NM that benefited, the vast majority of states that participated in ACA did. Just a few of many examples:
- An end to annual and lifetime limits: Before the ACA, 555,000 New Mexicans with employer or individual market coverage had a lifetime limit on their insurance policy. That meant their coverage could end exactly when they needed it most. The ACA prohibits annual and lifetime limits on policies, so all New Mexicans with employer plans now have coverage that’s there when they need it.
- Young adults covered until age 26: An estimated 15,000 young adults in New Mexico have benefited from the ACA provision that allows kids to stay on their parents’ health insurance up to age 26.
- Free preventive care: Under the ACA, health plans must cover preventive services — like flu shots, cancer screenings, contraception, and mammograms –- at no extra cost to consumers. This provision benefits 735,472 people in New Mexico, most of whom have employer coverage.
- Slower premium growth: The average premium for New Mexico families with employer coverage grew 4.3 percent per year from 2010-2015, compared with 8.5 percent over the previous decade. Assuming New Mexico premiums grew in line with the national average in 2016, family premiums in New Mexico are $5,100 lower today than if growth had matched the pre-ACA decade.
In addition, thousands of New Mexicans were able to access behavioral health and drug treatment, almost one million New Mexicans who have pre-existing conditions that could have resulted in denied coverage are guaranteed coverage under ACA, and the list goes on. And yet, one of the first acts of the new Senate was to vote to end the ACA. For a one-page graphic depicting how many individuals obtained coverage in each of the 32 states participating in Obamacare, click here.
Democratic leaders are calling for a “day of action” on Jan. 15 to mobilize grassroots opposition across the country to Republican plans to “end Medicare as we know it and throw our health care system into chaos.” Click here for information about Jan. 15 events in Belen at 11 am, in Albuquerque at 1 pm, and in Santa Fe at 2 pm Click here for information on this national effort.
The Health Security Plan. New Mexico has a number of important healthcare related bills that will be considered in this Roundhouse Session. One of the most important is the Health Security Plan advanced by the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign, a statewide, nonpartisan coalition of over 145 organizations and numerous individual supporters established in 1992. Yes, for over 20 years this group has tirelessly sought to make a form of single-payer healthcare a reality in NM. In my last blog, I commented on how we had to stop accepting crumbs. Well, the Health Security Plan is not crumbs. It is the entire loaf that we have been seeking for at least two decades. Go to Health Security Plan for a 2-page summary, essentially a single-payer, universal health care system for the state of New Mexico. Quoting from this summary:
“A 1994 New Mexico study by the independent think tank The Lewin Group estimated that $4.6 billion could have been saved by 2004 had all New Mexicans been under one plan by 1997.”
“Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. concluded in 2007 that the Health Security Act was the only proposal that would significantly reduce healthcare costs, even in its first year of operation. Other state studies also have shown that covering all or most state residents through one insurance plan controls rising health care costs. And these studies were conducted prior to passage of the ACA.”
New Mexico’s Health Security Act would improve access to care, reduce costs, and improve health outcomes. And despite enjoying the support of over 145 organizations, it continues to be a concept, not a law. The Health Security Act will be one of the key bills that our Citizen Advocacy Action Team will lobby for during the Roundhouse Session that begins next week.
If you want to become better informed on the actual research that supports the efficacy of a single-payer system, the workshop below seems tremendous.
Friday, Jan 20, 6pm-7:45pm. UNM’s Domenici Center for Health Sciences Education. What is Medicare for all? An Evidence-Based Presentation on Single Payer and the Future of US Healthcare will be presented by Steffie Woolhandler, MD, MPH and David Himmelstein, MD, Professors of Public Health at CUNY School of Public Health and Lecturers in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Single Payer Workshop for details, precise location, and how to get more information.
Three Other Important Healthcare Bills Retake Our Democracy will be Endorsing
Retake Our Democracy will also be working with Health Access NM, which will have a mobile texting alert system in place to alert Retake members of pending legislation. Their list of high-priority bills will be posted on their website very soon and we will provide links once this is done. One important bill will be a Memorial Bill to create a Task Force that will track the impact of the looming Federal proposals to change or defund the Obamacare and document the impact of these proposals on New Mexico. Another bill, to be introduced by Represenative Jeff Steinborn will focus on pharmaceutical pricing and on transparency (details coming on this one). Yet another worthy bill that enjoys strong support from all health organizations and in the House and Senate is the Dental Access Bill which would enable mid-level Oral Therapists to provide an array of preventive and therapeutic services. Many people do not realize the critical importance of dental care and the degree to which it can negatively impact your life when an urgent dental need arises, usually due to lack of preventive care that would be routine through this bill. This is an especially important reform, especially for those in rural New Mexico where dental services can be difficult to access. For an excellent video and summary, click here.
None of the above bills have yet received Bill Numbers which makes it hard for organizations like Health Access NM to organize support for their bills. The process through which a bill must travel to become law in New Mexico is complex to say the least. For an excellent summary of how a bill is introduced and can pass through the legislature, click here to access the very clear summary produced the NM Health Security.
Please share this important post as more New Mexicans need to understand what is at stake this year as relates to their healthcare and how catastrophic a roll back of Obamacare would be.