Health Security for NM, a Guest Post + Debate Reactions

Short post today, outlining why we need to support the Health Security Act in the 2021 Legislature. Plus ruminations on the sanctity of the vote & our responsibility for ensuring EVERYONE VOTES!

Debate Debacle: Impossible to Put Into Words

For those of you who watched it, you know. For those who didn’t, you are lucky. It was the vilest display of unpresidential behavior in living memory. Trump interrupted endlessly and was as brutish, crude and unfocused as his Tweets. Roxanne lasted 40 minutes. I don’t know how or why I watched it all. The good news, Trump’s comportment will almost certainly lose him many suburban votes. I am not sure why they didn’t turn off his mic and I will be surprised if Biden agrees to participate in future debates. It was worse than that bad, as two articles and two quotes describe.

“We are in a moral swamp, watching behavior from the President that would not be tolerated in a kindergarten class.Everyone I know is either disgusted, sad or horrified. That includes Republican friends, who are disgusted by Trump’s performance tonight.”

CNN: “Who Won the Debate.” Comment from Van Jones

“Conservative pundit William Kristol called it “a spectacle… an embarrassment… a disgrace… because of the behavior of one man, Donald Trump. The interrupting and the bullying, the absence of both decency and dignity—those were Donald Trump’s distinctive contributions to the evening, and they gave the affair the rare and sickening character of a national humiliation.”

From Letters from an American: “Heather Cox Richardson Sept. 29″

Health Security for New Mexicans,
A Guest Post from Sherry Robinson

Retake has long been a strong supporter of the Health Security Act. Today we let Sherry Robinson offer her reasons for supporting the HSA. Sherry Robinson is an award-winning, longtime New Mexico reporter and editor. She began her newspaper career in Grants in 1976 and subsequently worked for the Gallup Independent, Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico Business Weekly and Albuquerque Tribune. She is the author of three books and penned the piece below expressing her reasons for supporting the HSA.

New stab at statewide public health insurance could be do-able, consultant says by Sherry Robinson

Writing about healthcare coverage is always a dizzying experience, I find, but lately there’s some encouraging news. Recently a legislative committee heard an update on the proposed Health Security Act. Proponents say it would save billions and control rising costs while providing access and almost universal coverage.

Introduced in the 2019 legislative session, the Health Security Act offered a detailed, public healthcare plan, run by cooperatives, that would cover all New Mexicans. Plan members could choose their providers, even across state lines. Private, for-profit insurance would take a supplementary role. The ambitious bill, introduced by some Dem heavy hitters, called for fiscal analysis to determine potential costs, savings and coverage. If lawmakers and the administration found it feasible, it would be implemented.

The bill ran into resistance. Although it was presented as a study, it would “lay the ground work for a government-run healthcare system that would lead to the collapse of the private insurance market in New Mexico,” wrote the Association of Commerce and Industry. The group’s concern was that the bill wouldn’t receive enough study, “leaving New Mexico taxpayers with the surprise costs of covering government-run healthcare.”

Lawmakers passed House Memorial 92, which called for a fiscal analysis. KNG Health Consulting, of Maryland, assessed the five-year cost of the proposed plan and looked at whether the state’s revenue and potential savings would cover the cost.

KNG reported Sept. 4 to the interim Health and Human Services Committee. Costs are hard to pin down because of variables, like how generous the plan would be and in what circumstances, along with a host of unknowns, so the consultant used four scenarios. (This came after the consultant scared everyone with a $7 billion cost estimate.)

KNG concluded that the plan, to begin in 2024, would provide universal coverage and reduce the percentage of uninsured people to almost zero. Without reform, New Mexico healthcare costs are expected to rise by $2.1 billion between 2024 and 2028, but over five years, the plan could reduce state spending between $1.6 billion and $2.7 billion, depending on the scenario. It would reduce healthcare costs substantially under all scenarios. Existing revenue could fund the plan under some scenarios; in others, there could be a funding shortfall, although the shortfalls decrease each year. One scenario predicts a funding surplus. [Retake: please note amplification on this below.]

How does it reduce costs? The plan would reduce administrative costs by merging Medicaid, state employees, and health insurance exchange programs. It would buy medicines in bulk. It would simplify billings and stabilize revenues for hospitals. The consultant also predicted the plan would reduce workers’ compensation and car insurance premiums. A focus on prevention would result in a healthier population.

During the committee hearing, legislators asked about the impact on private insurers and on small business. Mary Feldblum, executive director of the Health Security for New Mexicans campaign, said that private insurers opposed Medicare in 1965 because they feared it would put them out of business but then found new roles in offering supplementary insurance.

She said that employers who currently don’t provide coverage would have an increased expense for paying into the plan, but employers who do already provide coverage would see a reduced cost for coverage.

Rep. Rebecca Dow, R-Truth or Consequences, called the plan a good start while noting the many unknowns and the sheer scale of the plan. If the assumptions are incorrect, she said, the result could be catastrophic. But Feldblum sees the current path as fraught with hazards — rising out-of-pocket costs, escalating drug prices, beleaguered hospitals, frustrated providers who spend more time on a computer than with patients, and employers who can’t afford to protect employees. Add to that around 200,000 New Mexicans who still lack coverage.

Maybe the Health Security Act doesn’t have all the answers just yet, but we’ve got to start somewhere.  
Reproduced with permission from the author.

First, kudos to Sherry for so neatly and clearly laying out the benefits of the HSA and responding to concerns. One note, I’d like to add is where Sherry indicated that in some scenarios NM would have to provide revenue to shore up the plan for a year or two. But, if we do not implement the HSA, we will have to provide huge amounts of revenue to shore up the existing NM health system EVERY year.

Note that without the HSA and employing the same health system we have today, the following is true:

  • At least 200,000 New Mexicans would continue to not have health insurance and likely many more as workers lose their jobs or employers reduce or eliminate health benefits;
  • The state would need to use $2.1 billion in revenue to shore up the existing system from 2024-2028;
  • With HSA the state would instead save between $1.6 B and $2.7 B during that period. In other words, any way you look at it, we have to cut the current system significantly to maintain current costs OR we can pass the HSA and create a robust system that covers anyone and saves the state billions.

If we have learned nothing from the pandemic, it is the vital importance of a strong health system with universal coverage. Every person who, because of lack of coverage, delayed seeking medical care with the first symptom of COVID, increased the risk of death or more severe complications while exposing others to the virus.

NM has the opportunity to lead the way to a universal healthcare system. It isn’t just for our 3 million residents that we need the HSA, it is for the 300 million Americans who could witness its benefits and have ammunition to advocate for similar systems in their state and at a national level.

There will be boatloads of misinformation about this initiative. Stay informed and tell your legislator now and in the future that we want the HSA in 2021. The time will never be better to get this done.

In solidarity and hope,

Paul & Roxanne…..and Sherry

Categories: Healthcare & Coverage

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2 replies

  1. Hi Paul. I lasted 90 seconds, in two 45 second bursts about 15 minutes apart. I was watching Biden anyway. He kept his focus pretty well, considering the pathos he was swimming in.

    If moderators are nothing more than talking heads, they are nothing more than enablers to the blathering man child hell bent on destroying EVERYTHING in, on, above the planet.

    This complete capitulation into groveling and grifting and enabling by the extinct R party leaves no room for doubt. I do not try to reason with, forgive, be patient with or even acknowledge their existence, for they are extinct, replaced by the Walking Dead.

    Now to the important stuff locally.

    I worked at Game and Fish, in law enforcement. This state agency, designed to serve the public and ITS wildlife and wild places, is (sic) ‘managed’ by a commission of appointed insiders, who report to no one, because they do not even follow the Gov, only what the Gov’s big donors, or powerful enemies, want them to do.

    It is an agency awash in cash, but keeps its numbers grotesquely small, thereby rendering its mission moot, not unlike OSHA, due to lack of bodies, policy, planning and implementation.

    The PRC, like the AG, SoS, Land Commissioner, are directly selected via public vote. It must stay that way, and have two more commissioners, not two less.

    Now here is the gigantic rub. The public, weary if not a direct recipient of the largesse of the agency it is supposed to control via the vote, has little opportunity to vet candidates, either before or after being elected. This is purposeful, meant to keep the citizens under-informed and therefore subject to the massive propaganda spewed out in advertising, and press accounts. It is no longer possible, if it ever was, to trust the Fourth Estate to give us the clean facts on candidates. Consider Fox Faux or the now miserable CBS networks and their treason in 2015-16.

    The ‘system’ surrounding the ways and means the public can vet these candidates, including AG, SoS and Land, and now PRC, MUST be changed via legislative fiat. The legislature is also NOT a good bet, but we have nothing else, short of public bullying to get ballot approval, like CA, to ram through public needs through direct amendments, or their ilk. They also would have to be designed, by the co-opted legislature, to be absolutely balanced and fair and impartial.

    The constant Constitutional crises we citizens have been subjected to since Ray Gun have revealed the powerlessness of that revered document. 90 percent of us are nothing more than chattel bimbos, led by the nose via propaganda, to line the pockets and bail out the wealthy, elite criminals who actually run the country and its states like a carnival in rural Kansas.

    How to do this, powerfully and effectively, is the rub.

    Mick Nickel


  1. It’s Monday: Links to Last Week’s Posts, Ruminations on Trump & the Election & Reasons To Hope – Retake Our Democracy

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