June 22, 2017

Senators slam GOP health care overhaul effort

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall (l) and Martin Heinrich (r)

Both of New Mexico’s U.S. senators slammed the recently-released Republican health care bill, saying it would hurt New Mexicans by damaging coverage.

The two, both Democrats, also criticized the secretive process used by Republicans to craft the legislation. No public hearings are scheduled for the bill, and most Senators only got their first look at the language Thursday, days before the vote on the bill.

Republicans hope to vote on the bill, which they dubbed the Better Care Reconciliation Act, before the end of the month and the July 4th recess. The New York Times described the bill as structurally similar to the unpopular version that passed the House of Representatives earlier this year.

The bill would not only roll back the expansion to Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act, but also includes additional cuts to the health care program for the poor. The cuts to Medicaid would come by giving states a set amount of money per person instead of setting a limit on spending through the program per person. Since its inception, the funding for Medicaid has been open-ended.

New Mexico is one of the majority of states that opted to expand Medicaid under the ACA.

The bill would also serve as a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, as the Affordable Care Act tax increases would be reversed, which is similar to the House version.

Sen. Tom Udall called the bill a “disgrace and disaster” while dubbing it “TrumpCare.”

“It is a disgrace that Senate Republicans are trying to force an extremely unpopular bill on the country in a week after drafting their TrumpCare bill in secret, excluding everyone except corporate lobbyists and without holding public hearings or seeking bipartisan input,” Udall said. “This bill affects one sixth of our economy, and if Republicans are successful, TrumpCare will cause hundreds of thousands of people in New Mexico and millions of Americans in every corner of our state and nation to lose access to health care, prescription drugs, drug addiction counseling, and other life-saving services.”

Sen. Martin Heinrich was also highly critical of the bill, dubbing it a “train wreck” and saying that it “seems to be everything we feared it would be.”

“I am stunned that President Trump and Senate Republicans seem determined to rush through such a massive piece of legislation that was negotiated in secret with zero public input or hearings,” Heinrich said. “I urge President Trump and Republicans to listen to the millions of Americans who are saying loud and clear that it’s time to turn the page on this reckless path so we can finally get to work on actually fixing those things in the current health care system that need work.”

Republicans have said they hope the analysis by the Congressional Budget Office will be done by Friday. That analysis is necessary to pave the way for a vote.

Udall said that over 96 percent of those who have contacted him urged him to oppose the bill.

“I urge my Republican colleagues to reject this disgraceful and disastrous bill,” he said.