September 20, 2017

Martinez not on board with latest ACA repeal attempt

Gov. Susana Martinez

Gov. Susana Martinez believes the health care overhaul bill that Senate Republicans are currently working on would hurt New Mexico and says they should instead work on a bipartisan effort.

After NM Political Report and other outlets asked Martinez her stance on the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill, Martinez’s office released a statement.

Spokesman Joseph Cueto said it is “perfectly clear…that Obamacare is a complete disaster.”

“While it’s encouraging that Congress is working on a healthcare solution, the governor is concerned this bill could hurt New Mexico and still needs some work,” he said. “She believes we need a bipartisan approach that focuses on the insurance market to make health care affordable.”

Senators are expected to vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill, which is supported by President Donald Trump, next week.

Efforts at a bipartisan health care effort ended this week as the possibility of the new bill’s passage became more likely.

The Graham-Cassidy bill would fundamentally change Medicaid funding by using block grants to distribute funding instead of the current process. It would also halt Medicaid expansion.

If Congress passes the law, states that expanded Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act largely would lose money, while states that did not would gain more funding.

New Mexico expanded Medicaid; all states that did not had Republican governors.

The bill would allow states to eliminate protections for those with preexisting conditions, perhaps the most popular part of the ACA, and change what counts as “essential health benefits” under qualifying insurance.

Supporters of the bill say it would give more power to the states, while critics say the drop in funding would leave more uninsured.

Funding for the bill only runs through 2026.

The statement from Martinez’s office came after more than half of the governors took stances on the health care bill.

Ten governors, including  Democrats, Republicans and one independent, sent a letter to Senate leadership outlining their opposition to the bill. Then, a group of ten Republicans including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, sent a letter saying they supported the bill. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, previously said he supported the effort.

Whether the bill will pass or not will come down to the votes of a few Republican Senators.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said he was leaning towards no, while John McCain of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska all are weighing the possibilities.

All Democrats, including New Mexico Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, oppose the effort.

“In the end, New Mexicans deserve a health care solution that puts our families ahead of politics,” Cueto said.