SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s top insurance regulator said a Republican drive to erase the Affordable Care Act would cripple the state’s efforts to provide health coverage to the poor.
New Mexico Insurance Superintendent John Franchini says the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill would greatly hinder New Mexico’s efforts to provide health care to individuals and families living just above the federal poverty level, and that he hopes the initiative fails to win approval.
U.S. Senate Republicans continued a final push Thursday to repeal much of President Barack Obama’s health care law.
Their bill would end the Medicaid expansion and subsidies for people buying private insurance and combine the money into new block grants for states. Its authors, Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, foresee a fairer system of funding health care from state to state, with greater flexibility.
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Franchini said the proposal would reduce and shift health care funding to state that did not act on opportunities to expand health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, to the detriment of New Mexico.
“That would greatly cripple our ability to expand Medicaid like we have, and increase coverage for our poor population,” he said. “And it will be a great burden on Medicaid, Medicare and the exchange. I hope this doesn’t pass, I don’t see how it could pass.”
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has expressed general concern that the bill could hurt New Mexico. New Mexico Medicaid officials have proposed adding monthly premiums and expanding co-payments to more patients to limit state Medicaid expenses.
Currently, most individuals enrolled in Medicaid do not shoulder any costs, while small copayments are collected from families who qualify for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the working disabled population.
The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty has warned that the new premiums and copayments would limit access to health care.