We have come a long way, and I need your help. Just seven years ago, almost one in five New Mexicans could not afford health insurance, and rarely saw a doctor outside of the emergency room. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, New México’s uninsured rate has been cut in half—to 8.9 percent—and 300,000 more New Mexicans can see a doctor when they get sick, without fear of going broke.
Families from Carlsbad to Crownpoint now have essential health benefits like doctor visits, prescription drugs, pregnancy and child birth care, and mental health services, including substance abuse treatment. And all families are guaranteed critical preventative services like mammograms and other cancer screenings. Insurance companies can’t kick you off your policy for a pre-existing condition or because your health care is too expensive. And you can keep your kids on your policy until they turn 26 years old.
Not only has the ACA helped individuals get necessary care—increasing access to doctors and health services has boosted health care to one of the brightest parts of our state’s otherwise slow economy. Seven of the 10 fastest growing job categories are in health care.
I will be one of the first to admit that the ACA isn’t perfect. Premiums are still too high, deductibles are increasing too much, and we still must bring down the cost of prescription drugs. But there is no denying that the ACA has made a world of difference to families across New México—we need to build on the gains we’ve made. We can’t afford to go back to the time when insurance companies were in charge, and when even people working two jobs risked going bankrupt if they, or a loved one, got sick.
I will not stand aside as progress in New México is threatened by Washington, D.C which would take health care away from over 265,000 New Mexicans. Repeal could send our state into another recession—costing our economy an estimated 32,000 jobs, $1.6 billion in wages, and $759 million in state tax revenues over the next 10 years. All to help insurance companies and to give the wealthiest Americans a big tax break.
On June 13th, Senate Republican leaders made changes to this bill in secret, with no plan to hold public hearings. This means the American people can’t get real answers to questions about how many people will lose insurance, what benefits will be canceled, and who, exactly, would benefit.
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the Republican bill would eviscerate Medicaid. This would be devastating in New México, where leaders in both parties have agreed that low-income families, seniors and people with pre-existing conditions deserve health care. Rural hospital administrators in communities like Santa Rosa and Socorro have told me that losing this critical lifeline would devastate their communities and might push them to a financial breaking point.
I know New Mexicans don’t want to see their health care taken away because I’ve received over 10,000 calls and letters from constituents urging me to oppose the effort to repeal and replace the ACA.
I recently took to the Senate floor to tell the stories of New Mexicans who will be left behind if the ACA is repealed and replaced.
You can help me. My Senate colleagues need to hear about just how costly this repeal and replace bill will be for working people — for the New México families, children and loved ones who will lose their health insurance and their peace of mind if the ACA is repealed. Email me at SenTomUdall@tomudall.senate.gov to share your story.
I strongly and unequivocally support the right for all people to have health care. I will do everything I can to reach this goal for the people of New México.
By Tom Udall
Tom Udall is a United States Senator representing New México.