COMMENTARY: This letter is to thank four of our five nationally elected officials who are fighting for the common men, women, and children of New Mexico by opposing Republican’s cynical attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), cut back Medicaid benefits for the poor, and change Medicare to a private voucher system.
Senator Tom Udall, Senator Martin Heinrich, Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham, and Representative Ben Ray Luján are resisting efforts to cut or eliminate programs that improve and save lives in New Mexico.
The ACA, more widely known as Obamacare, allows children up to 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance policies, forbids insurance companies from dropping people with pre-existing conditions, eliminates lifetime caps on what insurance companies have to pay out to individuals for medical expenses, and demands that insurance companies do not charge higher premiums for women than they do for men. These are elements that are popular with the vast majority of Americans.
Republicans say they will repeal and replace the ACA and will keep many of these elements in place, but they are not telling the truth. To make a plan work with these popular features you also need other less-popular elements such as mandatory enrollment for all. There are no Republican plans that keep the popular but drop the unpopular — mainly because then the plan would not be able to maintain itself.
Our Republican governor must be given some credit for allowing the expansion of Medicaid through the ACA in New Mexico adding thousands of uninsured to the rolls. Now her colleagues in Washington want to slash that budget to reduce eligibility and lower the number of needy families who qualify.
Also, a Republican plan is the works to privatize Medicare to reduce payments to a yearly stipend well below the cost of dealing with real life medical conditions. By attending two roundtable meetings, I personally know that our two senators are in favor of keeping Medicare intact, including keeping Medicare Advantage programs that allow benefits to be farmed out to private insurers to help control costs through competition.
This is an example of an innovative program designed to solve problems while maintaining benefits rather than slashing and burning those benefits.
Cutting health-care programs for people in the middle class, the poor, and the elderly will ruin the quality of life for many and will actually end the lives of some. Please contact your senators and representatives. Thank the ones who are fighting for us, and urge the other one (Steve Pearce) to get on board.
Ron Schwartz is a retired educator who has lived and worked in New Mexico since 1972.