Healthcare

by Kirsten / Jan 19, 2017 / comments
Repeal Of Health Care Act Could Cost New Mexico Billions
 
By STAFF REPORTER
 
Over the past six years 129,000 previously uninsured people across New Mexico have taken advantage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to secure health insurance for themselves and their families.  
In Rio Arriba County, around 1,000 families have enrolled in the individual marketplace created by the law and several thousand other individuals became eligible for insurance under Medicaid expansion.
The ACA, also known as “Obama Care” has been controversial from the start and with Donald Trump set to be sworn-in as President on Jan. 20 is likely to be repealed.
On Thursday, Jan 12 the U.S. Senate voted to begin the process of repealing the ACA, but did so without having an alternative plan in place. The New Mexico Congressional delegation reacted strongly to this action.
Both Senator Tom Udall and Senator Martin Heinrich voted against the action and Udall released a statement saying a repeal of the ACA would cost New Mexico $2.2 billion per year, eliminate health care provider jobs and possibly throw the state into   a recession.
Udall said, “Republicans don’t have a plan to replace the 19,000 jobs and $2.2 billion that repealing the ACA would cost New Mexico each year by 2019. Losing $2 billion a year would be a huge hit that could send our state’s economy into recession. “
Senator Heinrich responded by launching a new tool on his website for New Mexicans to share their stories about their need for access to quality, affordable health care.
Congressman Ben Ray Lujan reacted to the Senate and subsequent House action saying  “Working families will bear the brunt of Republicans’ blind contempt for the Affordable Care Act. 
The Republican health care repeal will put insurance companies rather than doctors in charge of health care, rip coverage away from 30 million people and raise premiums in New Mexico and all across the country.”
The question many are now asking is how a repeal will affect them personally. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), New Mexicans have been impacted by the ACA in a variety of ways.
New Mexico is one of the states that has seen large reductions in uninsured numbers under the ACA with the percentage of people in New Mexico without insurance dropping by 44 percent.
Congressional Republicans and President-Elect Trump have stated that they plan to repeal ACA but retain its more popular components. 
These components include the end to lifetime limits on coverage, allow preexisting conditions to be covered, guarantee preventative care, and allowing parents to keep their children on their insurance until they reach 26 years old.
The ACA proponents also point to results that they say repeal threatens.
Some of the ACA results in New Mexico include:
82,000 New Mexicans have gained coverage through Medicaid: An estimated 82,000 New Mexicans have health insurance today because New Mexico expanded Medicaid under the ACA. HHS statistics show 11,700 fewer New Mexicans struggling to pay medical bills, and 100 avoided deaths each year.
Thousands of New Mexicans with a mental illness or substance use disorder are getting care: Because of expansion and improved access to treatment, an estimated 8,000 fewer New Mexicans are experiencing symptoms of depression.
New Mexico is saving millions in uncompensated care costs: Instead of spending $90 million on uncompensated care, which increases costs for everyone, New Mexico is getting $190 million in federal support to provide low-income adults with much needed coverage.
Children, people with disabilities, and seniors can more easily access Medicaid coverage: The ACA streamlined Medicaid eligibility processes, eliminating hurdles so that vulnerable New Mexicans could more easily access and maintain coverage.
In addition, the increased access to health insurance has increased the demand for healthcare workers. It is estimated by HHS that over 4,000 healthcare worker positions have been created by the adoption of the program.
It is uncertain if a replacement-funding source would be adopted in Congress and a new President Trump repeal the ACA, but Congress has said that any changes or repeal of the law would not go into affect until 2018 or later. Individuals who currently have coverage should be able to keep it, at least for this year.