June 22, 2017

Latest GOP health care draft threatens NM Medicaid

Capitol Hill Building, Washington DC

SANTA FE, N.M. — The latest version of the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare is being made available for review just one week before it is to be voted on in the Senate – and it contains drastic implications for Medicaid in New Mexico.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has enacted rules to bypass committee hearings on the bill, which supporters hope to get signed before the Fourth of July recess. If that happens, people on medical assistance in New Mexico face severe challenges, according to Edwin Park, vice president for health policy with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“The emerging Senate bill, which is largely mirroring the House bill, would scale back the Medicaid program, and then the coverage levels that were even in place pre-Affordable Care Act would be rolled back as well,” Park said.

The largest group of New Mexicans to be affected would be children. More than 300,000 kids were on Medicaid in the state in 2014, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Still, Republicans argue that Americans deserve relief from the failures of Obamacare.

Thirteen senators – none from New Mexico – have been meeting behind closed doors ever since the American Health Care Act passed the House of Representatives in May, making changes to the bill. With only a week until the Senate vote and no committee evaluations, the heat is on to either pass or kill the plan.

Groups such as MoveOn are working overtime to rally Democrats and Independents to defeat the bill. Park said one reason to do so is that progress that was made with Medicaid expansion would be erased.

“That is very large Medicaid cuts and millions of low-income individuals who would otherwise be on Medicaid losing their coverage,” he said.

If the AHCA passes in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 52-to-48 majority, changes will need approval from the House again before it can be signed by the president.