COMMENTARY: Medicaid is a vital program that is a major source of funding for health-care providers that serve all of us. That means the cuts that are now in effect will negatively impact the quality of care for all New Mexicans.
In 2015, the Center for Disease Control found that over 93 percent of office-based physicians in New Mexico accept new Medicaid patients. In addition, Medicaid provides hospitals and clinics with critical funds that allow them to better staff their facilities.
So when cuts are made to the program, even if you have private insurance, many health-care providers will be less likely to see you and your family in a timely manner because they are so stretched thin.
Wait times will skyrocket for everyone.
The ripple effects will be felt across the system. Consider the thousands of health-care providers who could soon be out of a job because of these cuts. Many well-trained, highly-skilled workers will be faced with the prospect of enrolling in Medicaid themselves or simply leaving the state, exacerbating the dire workforce issues that New Mexico already faces.
And, of course, benefits cuts are essentially cuts to providers because many doctors will still provide those services but without getting paid for them.
The alternative is worse patient outcomes, cutting against the very purpose of our investment in the program. For every dollar the state cuts from Medicaid, four dollars in federal funding leave the state. That means nearly $300 million will be drained from our state’s already fragile economy, making life more difficult for those already struggling, including our neighbors, families, and small businesses.
While we may disagree about our approach to this issue, we must recognize that Medicaid is an integral part of our economy and health-care system. The decision to slash its funding will be burden to us all.
It is crucial that the governor calls for a special session and lawmakers come together to ensure that our health-care system works for us as New Mexicans. This is not about politics. It’s about people.
Colin Baillio is the director of policy and communications for Health Action New Mexico. He is a graduate of the University of New Mexico and served as a Fred Harris Congressional Intern for the Office of U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich.