KUNM

Senate's Health Care Proposal Could Cut Crucial Services In N.M.

Jun 22, 2017

The Senate released a revised GOP health care bill on Thursday, June 22, with major cuts to Medicaid, reproductive health, and mental health programs widely used by people in New Mexico. Advocates are saying the changes could have long-lasting negative impacts.

The Senate is considering gutting Medicaid, just like the House did weeks ago. But the Senate’s proposal would allot some money for subsidies for three years. After that, funds would be capped except for folks severely under the poverty level. As things stand, 43 percent of our state is on the program, and we have the highest number of babies born into Medicaid in the country.

Judy Williams said the cuts are drastic, and the changes wouldn’t lower costs or improve the quality of care people get here. She’s the president of the League of Women Voters in New Mexico.

“Health care has been the biggest economic engine in the state for several years since Obamacare was passed,” Williams said. “So it will have a huge effect on the state when we can least afford it.”

Williams added that a lot of people would lose coverage altogether, and we could see a spike in overdose deaths if these changes take effect. The bill includes some grant funds for the opioid crisis, which plagues Rio Arriba County. But lawmakers say it’s nowhere near enough.

Planned Parenthood is already closing clinics in the state, and under the Senate’s proposal, they would receive no Medicaid reimbursements for at least a year. Abortion would also not be covered, except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother.

KUNM’s Public Health New Mexico project is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the McCune Charitable Foundation.