Health insurance reform may benefit New Mexico economically

By Matthew Reichbach

The Medicaid expansion through the health care reform law will more than pay for itself in New Mexico according to analysts from New Mexico Voices for Children. Bill Jordan, Policy Director for New Mexico Voices for Children, and Kelly O’Donnell, an economist, gave a presentation to the Revenue Stabilization and Tax Policy interim committee Friday in Albuquerque explaining how New Mexico’s tax structure lends itself to taking advantage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

The two were questioned by the committee on how the tax structure would help and whether or not the health care act would actually help lower income residents receive health insurance.

There are two main revenue streams from the federal government that New Mexico will benefit from according to Jordan. One is the money coming in directly from Medicaid. The other money is the money that would come in the form of tax breaks for health insurance for low-income individuals.

“Those are the two main streams of funds and ways that people will get insurance,” Jordan told Clearly New Mexico following the hearing. “Both of those, Medicaid and the private insurance that is bought on the health care exchange, are taxed already and will be taxed with a 4 percent health insurance premium tax. And that plus our gross receipts tax and other minor taxes, like personal income tax, will generate enough tax revenue that we’ll have more than enough money to pay for our share of the Medicaid expansion that’s coming.”

HSD, advocacy groups at odds over Medicaid’s future

The hearing comes after the state’s Human Services Department has said a redesign of Medicaid is necessary because it is unsustainable as it is currently run. Many more people will be eligible for Medicaid in 2014 because of the PPACA. The federal government will cover the vast majority of the costs for the first few years, though this phases out and New Mexico will be on the hook for ten percent of the costs of the new Medicaid enrollees when it is completely phased out.

This summer, HSD Cabinet Secretary Sedonie Squire rejected a call for a public Medicaid Redesign Task Force. The call came from advocacy organizations, including New Mexico Voices for Children, which were not happy about the secrecy of the Medicaid redesign.

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Protecting Sick Children? It’s No Job For Insurance Companies, Apparently

By Tracy Dingmann

How dismaying.

A story in the New Mexico Independent yesterday says Lovelace Health Plan will sharply limit the time period during which parents can buy child-only health insurance for their kids.

Lovelace, which is one of the largest health care providers in New Mexico, said it will only allow parents to buy such policies during a one-month enrollment period each year, instead of maintaining open enrollment all year long.

The decision is expected to result in a huge drop in the number of children-only policies Lovelace issues.

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New Poll Shows How Americans Really Feel About Health Care Reform

By Tracy Dingmann

In the debate over the recently-passed health care reform law, much of the media and political narrative has focused on the angry Americans who say they oppose the so-called government take-over of health care and the mandate that most Americans carry insurance by 2014.

But did you know that the number of people who think the law should have gone further outnumber those who think the government should stay out of health care?

A New Poll Enlightens

An Associated Press poll conducted in early September by Stanford University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that overall, 30% favored the legislation, while 40% opposed it, and another 30% remained neutral. Sounds like most of the rest of the surveys we’ve heard about, right?

But here’s the twist. The survey also found that – regardless of whether they support the law, oppose it or remain neutral – about four in 10 adults think the new law did not go far enough to change the health care system, That’s compared with about one in five who say they oppose the law because they think the federal government should not be involved in health care at all.

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Learn More About How Health Care Reform Affects You

health care You’ve heard about health care reform – but do you have any clue what kind of difference it could make in your life?

A group that knows all about the health care bill and how it affects New Mexico wants to help New Mexicans find out how to make the most of the benefits and services available now.

Health Action New Mexico, a local nonprofit organization, has been poring over the federal health care legislation and will be available all summer to talk about the ways it will be enacted in New Mexico.

Throughout the summer, HANM is committed to traveling throughout New Mexico to meet with groups of folks who are most likely to be affected, including seniors, parents, children, college students, people with chronic health conditions, community health care centers, school-based health clinic – in other words, just about everyone.

HANM will also be publicizing a series of informational articles in various local media outlets will that explain much more about how reform can benefit New Mexicans.

“A lot of services and money are available, but you have to know what applies to you and know what you have to do it to get it,” said Dick Mason, who chairs HANM’s legislative committee and the Action Committee of the League of Women Voters New Mexico.

“We want to marshal consumer groups and make sure they participate in the process and know how to do it. We want to make sure the voice of the consumer is heard throughout the whole process.”

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Health Care Reform Act A Welcome Step Toward Worthy Goal

It’s not universal healthcare, but it is in fact a pretty big fucking deal.

With the health care reform bill that President Obama signed yesterday, 32 million of this country’s poorest people will now receive health care coverage for the first time and millions more will get help with paying for the health care they have. The practical effects of the bill go beyond health care – The New York Times called the bill “the federal government’s biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago.”

In New Mexico – one of the nation’s poorest states with one of the highest rate of uninsured people – at least 100,000 people will likely become eligible for Medicaid, and many more with moderate incomes will get help buying insurance.

Far from being a step toward socialism, as its hysterical detractors claim, what happened yesterday was historic and hard-fought and every bit as American as baseball and apple pie.

Students of history know that the health care act has echoes in the human rights campaign of The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. When he was murdered, King was in act of transitioning the civil rights movement against segregation into the broader “Poor People’s Campaign.” That movement called for an “economic bill of rights” for the poor that included governmental commitments to employment, housing and health care.

Movement marcher John Lewis was central to MLK’s movement then as an organizer and he was central again 40 years later, as a senior congressman from Georgia overseeing the campaign for health care coverage in Congress.

Last week, in an outrageous twist of events, Lewis was targeted on Capitol Hill by anti health care protestors who spit on him and called him a “nigger.” Some things haven’t moved very far in 40 years, I guess.

(You know what they say about those who ignore history.)

Inevitably, the “Party of No” continues to portray the health care reform bill in ridiculous and overblown terms. Horriffically ugly and inaccurate demonstrations marked the discussion of the bill, with protesters likening Obama to Hitler and Stalin – and Republican officeholders not doing much to tamp them down.

Ironically, the odd bedfellows who oppose health care include both those within the insurance industry who have benefitted hugely from the current, bloated American corporate system – and those with virtually nothing who have been victimized by the same system but fail to see the connection.

At Clearly New Mexico, we believe that universal health care for all is a basic human right deeply rooted in the history and promise of America – and we are gratified to see the bill yesterday as being a huge step toward that worthy goal.

The Real Enemy: Health Insurance Empire Strikes Back

An article in today’s Washington Post pinpoints the real villain in the battle over health care reform.

Who’s really holding up reforms that would insure millions more Americans and lower costs for everyone?

Big shock – it’s the health insurance companies.

Reporter Ceci Connolly identifies the real enemy of the reform process, tracing the well-funded efforts of the powerful health insurance industry to crush any effort at changing the incredibly profitable status quo.

Check it out for a depressing affirmation of what many Americans suspected/knew all along.

But don’t say we didn’t tell you.  Listen to this radio spot aired by the Center for Civic Policy a few months ago:

RADIO SPOT – Are you satisfied with your health insurance?

Note to Bingaman: Did you know Conrad is bat sh*t crazy?

Jeff, ye hardly knew him!

Seriously, Senator Bingaman. Did you know?  And if you did, why the hell didn’t you sit him down and explain it all to him?

I’m referring to the clueless one, your colleague, Senator Kent Conrad of South North Dakota.

For all those many weeks of that historic summer 2009, you labored behind closed doors alongside Conrad. As members of the very exclusive Baucus Gang of Six, you tried in vain to hammer out a “bipartisan” health care reform bill.

Two of the three Republican members of your group, Charles Grassley and Mike Enzi were only sticking around to kill reform. But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

And let’s face it, Conrad, an early opponent of the public option (which you support), was always suspect. Grassley to Enzi to Conrad – to me that always sounded like a rally-killing double play turned by the visiting team.

Senator Bingaman, Sir… you are a man of tremendous forbearance.

And now this.

In Tuesday’s Finance Committee hearing, Conrad announced that he had finished reading a book over the weekend — T.R. Reid’s  Healing America – A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care.

Conrad was inspired by his newly-found book learning —  so much so it prompted him to issue a stern lecture to progressive health care reformers, informing them of their ignorance about the ways of the world:

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Not Your Typical Sob Story

This hilarious public service announcement parody from comedian Will Farrell’s Funny or Die project is more like an S.O.B story.

Watch as he and a panopoly of dramatic actors tearfully defend the people they think are the real victims in the health care debate!

“People are saying a lot of mean things about heath insurance companies and their executives….and it’s gotta stop.”

Check it out for a laugh.