President Joe Biden issued an executive order on Friday to protect reproductive care in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade last month. Amid cries among progressives that Biden should take steps to protect abortion with measures such as expanding the court or provide abortion on federal land, Biden said during a press conference on Friday that his authority to counter the court’s decision was limited. But he raised his voice in anger when describing a recent news story about a 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio who had to travel out of state for a legal abortion in Indiana due to a resulting pregnancy. Biden stressed that the U.S. Congress needs to pass the Women’s Health Protective Act to protect abortion care. The U.S. House passed the bill but Republicans in the U.S. Senate have filibustered it.
A new poll found that one in two New Mexicans didn’t seek medical care in the past two years due to the cost. Nearly a quarter of New Mexicans said they’d experienced discomfort or pain because they could not afford the cost. Of the respondents, 36 percent said they skipped dental care due to cost. Another 29 percent delayed visiting a doctor or procedure and 26 percent avoided visiting a doctor or procedure altogether because of the expense. Alex Williams, healthcare policy advocate for New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, told NM Political Report that currently, there are 200,000 individuals in New Mexico who lack access to healthcare.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday over Texas v. California, in which the state of Texas argued that the entire Affordable Care Act should be rendered unconstitutional. This is not the first time the Supreme Court has heard cases brought against the ACA. But it is the first case against the ACA with three Trump Administration appointees: Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Barrett, the most junior justice, has been openly critical of the ACA in her legal writings. President-elect Joe Biden spoke after the hearings, calling the case “cruel and needlessly divisive.”
Texas brought the case arguing that more Texas residents have applied for Medicaid due to the ACA.
One disabled Albuquerque woman, Jeanne Hamrick, said she would not be able to afford prescription drug costs if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act during this judicial term. Hamrick spoke during a live phone conference hosted by Democratic U.S. Senator Tom Udall to let average residents around the state talk about what losing the ACA would mean for them. The Supreme Court will hear California v. Texas on Nov. 10. The case challenges the constitutionality of the individual mandate and, with the likely confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett establishing a new conservative bloc majority, the court could overturn the entire ACA.
Hamrick said that before the ACA went into effect in 2013, she was paying $100 each month for prescription medication on a social security budget.
U.S. Senate Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously Thursday to move the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court to the full Senate. Democrats on the committee boycotted the vote and left posters of people who might be affected by the loss of the Affordable Care Act in their seats. One of the first cases Barrett will likely hear as a newly sitting U.S. Supreme Court justice will be a challenge to the ACA. Related: New SCOTUS conservative bloc could overturn ACA, with big impacts on NM
The Senate will vote on Barrett’s confirmation Monday. Senate Republicans need only a slim majority to confirm her.
If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act during the 2020-2021 judicial term, the result for New Mexicans could be catastrophic, according to various officials and experts. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear California v. Texas on November 10. If Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Monday, as is expected, this will be among the first cases she will hear as a Supreme Court justice. If she is confirmed, she will create a new 6-3 conservative bloc on the court bench which could lead to a ruling that the entire ACA is unconstitutional. If this happens, 20 million Americans could lose health insurance coverage, according to a report by the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
New Mexico women who need contraception are likely safe for now despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s 7-2 decision which will allow private companies to opt out of providing insurance coverage for it, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico. A recent law passed in New Mexico enables women in the state to continue contraceptive coverage despite the court’s decision which now enables private companies to deny contraception coverage by citing moral or religious objections. But, Ellie Rushforth, reproductive rights attorney for the ACLU-NM warned, the future is uncertain. “It doesn’t mean we’re fully insulated from future issues related to this,” she said. The Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s decision on Wednesday in the case, Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make major reproductive health care decisions early next week. Monday and Tuesday will be the final two days this term that the justices will issue opinions, according to the Supreme Court’s blog. Historically, the court has handed down decisions on abortion on the last day of the session, Nancy Northup, executive director of the Center for Reproductive Rights said last month. But in this case, the court has two reproductive health care decisions to rule upon in the final days of the session. The two cases are June Medical Services LLC v. Russo and Trump v. Pennsylvania.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday protecting LGBTQ from workplace discrimination “further enshrines” protections New Mexico already put in place, said Adrian N. Carver. Carver, executive director of the nonprofit Equality New Mexico, said the state passed laws in 2003 and 2019 that protects most workers who identify as LGBTQ from workplace discrimination. But, he said, that doesn’t always mean people are genuinely protected. “Legal equality is very different from lived equality,” Carver said. Susan Powers, a transgender woman living in Albuquerque, agreed and said she lost two jobs because she came out.
Sparks flew between Republicans and Democrats Sunday during a lengthy debate on a health care tax bill that supporters say would help the uninsured. Passed by the House on a vote of 41 to 25, HB 278 would create a health care fund for New Mexicans who are uninsured. The bill would replace a federal tax that Congress repealed. The state health insurance tax would result in $99.1 million to go to a new “health care affordability fund” and the remaining $25.6 million would go to the general fund. Republicans tried twice to amend the bill to exempt small business owners from the bill.