Martin Heinrich was one of 13 Democratic U.S. senators who voted against legislation earlier this week that would have allowed Americans to buy prescription drugs from other countries. The measure, a health care reform idea often supported by progressives, came as an amendment to legislation aimed at changing Senate rules to allow majority votes on budget bills. The procedural changes, which the Senate narrowly approved in the early hours of Thursday, are the first step in Republican plans to repeal as much of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, as they can. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent senator who unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic Party presidential nomination last year, sponsored the amendment with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota. Senators rejected the amendment on a 52-48 margin, with 12 Republicans casting their votes in favor.
Both U.S. senators from New Mexico voted this week against the first steps the Senate took to repeal the federal Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. The Senate vote, held Thursday during early morning hours, changed procedural rules to allow majority votes on so-called reconciliation bills. Such reconciliation bills are limited to actions on the federal budget and are filibuster-proof, meaning they just need 51 votes from senators to pass instead of the usual 60 votes. Republicans plan to use this reconciliation process to repeal as much of the ACA as they can. Sens.
Both Gov. Susana Martinez and the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance say they did not send a letter to Republicans in Congress and others about the Affordable Care Act. Congressional Republicans have been talking about repealing ACA, also known as Obamacare, in the coming year under President-elect Donald Trump. They’re debating whether to pass a repeal along with an immediate replacement or to repeal then pass a replacement plan later. PoliticoPro, a subscription service, first reported that Martinez and Superintendent of Insurance John Franchini sent a letter urging Congressional Republicans not to repeal the law without a replacement set up. A later report, again from PoliticoPro, said Martinez’s office denied sending the letter.
Senator Martin Heinrich is signing onto legislation that would keep the so-called “Cadillac tax” in the garage before it is even implemented. Heinrich will cosponsor legislation by U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., to repeal the tax that is part of the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare overhaul law that went into effect in 2013. The tax is one portion of the law that has not yet went into effect and isn’t scheduled to do so until 2018. Heller’s effort is a companion piece of legislation to a bill in the House by U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., which seeks to do the same thing. “Doing away with this onerous tax on employees’ health coverage before it goes into effect will protect important benefits for workers and ensure businesses and families get a fair deal,” Heinrich told New Mexico Political Report in a statement Thursday morning shortly before the legislation was unveiled. “I’m proud to join Senator Heller and Congressman Courtney in leading this bipartisan effort to ensure millions of middle-class families who rely on employer-based health care aren’t unfairly penalized because of this tax.”
A political consultant who previously ran for statewide office in New Mexico is now mulling a run for Congress in Texas. Bob Cornelius, CEO of 90 Degrees Agency, said he’s seriously considering a run against Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, in next year’s Republican Party primary. In an interview, Cornelius said Carter’s voting record isn’t conservative enough, citing votes to fund the health care overhaul, which he calls Obamacare, and military cuts in continuing budget resolutions. “I’ve traveled the district and spoken to leaders in the party,” he said. “I’ll make a final decision in the next couple of weeks.”
Cornelius describes himself as a “constitutionalist” who’s both socially and fiscally conservative.
While New Mexico still is not among the leaders in lowest uninsured rate, the percentage of uninsured since the passage of health care reform legislation has dropped more than 7 percentage points. The numbers from Gallup come from a large nationwide poll that showed uninsured rates have fallen massively in recent years, to the point where five states now have rates under 5 percent. In New Mexico, 13.1 percent are still uninsured. This is compared to 20.2 percent in 2013, before the health care overhaul, known as the Affordable Care Act, became law. In other words, the uninsured rate has dropped 7.1 percentage points.
The United States Supreme Court dealt a blow this morning to efforts to handicap the Affordable Care Act subsidies provision by deciding 6-3 that federal subsidies for Americans seeking health insurance through state-based exchanges are legal. See the reactions to the ruling from New Mexico’s congressional delegation. Republican opponents of the law sued to have those subsidies, essentially providing discounts on premiums for health policies offered through health exchanges, declared improper because the language of the ACA provided for those subsidies only through state-based exchanges, they argued. The argument said the law did not allow for subsidies in states that relied on the federal exchange instead of those created by the state themselves. “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a decision for the majority.