New Mexico Families Celebrate Senate Committee Passage Of Medicaid Buy-In

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New Mexico Families Celebrate Senate Committee Passage Of Medicaid Buy-In

SANTA FE — After testifying on Thursday before the Senate Public Affairs Committee, dozens of New Mexico families who have been working with the New Mexico Together for Healthcare campaign to support SB 405, The Medicaid Buy-in Act, celebrated the committee’s vote in favor of the bill.

The Medicaid Buy-in Act calls on the Human Services Department to create and implement by 2021 a program to allow New Mexicans not currently eligible for Medicaid, Medicare or Affordable Care Act subsidies to pay monthly premiums to “buy-in” to Medicaid.

Althea Yazzie of Twin Lakes told the committee that through her work with New Mexico Together for Healthcare she has talked with many working families like hers in McKinley County that could benefit from a buy-in.

“Hearing everybody’s stories broke our hearts,” Yazzie said. “Elders are being sent home from nursing homes because they can’t pay. People who have worked all of their lives still cannot pay for their healthcare. Medicaid Buy-in could change that. I’m here for my children, my grandkids and the future generations of New Mexico. Everyone deserves healthcare.”

Maria Burciaga, a promotora from Sunland Park, said that the proposed Buy-in would help her and people in her community.

“In 2014, I got sick; I had kidney stones,” Burciaga said. “The hospital said I needed to pay $4,000 upfront for surgery. I did what I could and I managed to get $1,500, but the hospital still wouldn’t care for me because I didn’t have insurance. The hospitals won’t take care of us because we cannot afford it. Medicaid Buy-in is a good alternative for us. The Public Affairs Committee members understand how important healthcare access is to New Mexico families.”

During Thursday’s hearing, New Mexico Together for Healthcare members Colin Baillio, Director of Policy and Communication with Health Action New Mexico, and Abuko Estrada, Supervising Attorney for Healthcare with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, served as expert witnesses.

“New Mexico families deserve access to the affordable, quality healthcare they need to thrive,” Estrada said. “Medicaid Buy-in creates an unprecedented opportunity to increase access to healthcare. The Public Affairs Committee members took a big step today toward ensuring New Mexicans have the care they need.”

Baillio cited recent polling data that show that 74 percent of New Mexicans—regardless of political party—support Medicaid Buy-in.

“For too long too many New Mexicans have had to choose between paying their bills and getting the healthcare they need,” Baillio said. “New Mexicans—and the members of the Public Affairs Committee–know that it’s time for a change. Medicaid Buy-in will create the change they need and deserve.”

The Medicaid Buy-in Act, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, now moves to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.