April 28, 2017

Report: Uninsured rate would jump in NM under House GOP bill

An economist says that the new U.S. House Republican healthcare plan would increase costs of health care for New Mexico and increase the uninsured rate in the state. The analysis focused on the impact on Medicaid in the state.

New Mexico may not have to deal with the potential of an Affordable Care Act repeal for awhile, since the latest attempt by the House to pass the legislation seems as dead on arrival as the previous effort last month.

Kelly O’Donnell, an economist with the Robert Wood Johnson Center of Health Policy at the University of New Mexico, wrote a report on the impacts of the American Healthcare Act, known by some as Trumpcare, which was released Thursday.

The report found that the bill, which would restructure Medicaid into a block-grant system, would impact over 265,000 New Mexicans who gained coverage through the Medicaid expansion from the Affordable Care Act as well as those who previously qualified for Medicaid.

That would force the state to make some tough choices—either pay more money to keep more New Mexicans insured or cut health coverage and increase the uninsured rate.

The report notes New Mexico is having trouble with its budget—legislators are waiting for the governor to call them into a special session to fix the budget after she line-item vetoed the entire legislative and entire higher education budget. That makes it unlikely New Mexico would spend the money to maintain the higher level of spending. This could lead to 250,000 low-income adults losing their Medicaid coverage.

After the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, went into effect New Mexico’s  uninsured rate dropped from 19 percent to 11 percent.

The drop in healthcare spending would also cut jobs in the healthcare industry. Right now, the report states, healthcare is “the number-one driver of job growth statewide.”

The state could lose an estimated 31,792 jobs by 2026.

As for the now-likely dead latest version of Trumpcare, which was defined largely by an amendment put forward by Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-New Jersey, it wasn’t possible to determine what effect it would have on New Mexico’s bottom line.

“The MacArthur amendment may impact Medicaid indirectly because it has the potential to increase costs to the federal government, which could, in turn, create additional pressure to cut Medicaid even further; but there are far too few details about how any of this would be implemented to model such a scenario,” O’Donnell told NM Political Report in a statement.