Commentary: ALBUQUERQUE, NM: On Friday, New Mexico organizations and individuals launched NM Together for Healthcare, a campaign to make good healthcare affordable for everyone in the state. The campaign includes an initiative to advance an innovative Medicaid buy-in plan to expand access to quality, affordable healthcare.
“We are all equal in deserving health care,” said Alfonso Yazzie, healthcare leader from Yah-ta-hey, New Mexico.
In the upcoming Legislative Session, NM Together for Healthcare will be supporting state Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino and state Rep. Debbie Armstrong’s memorials to explore a Medicaid Buy-In Plan for New Mexico. The buy-in--a concept that is gaining momentum nationally with similar bills introduced in Congress and currently in progress in Massachusetts, Illinois, and Iowa-- opens up Medicaid to allow more consumers to buy low-cost coverage through a Medicaid plan. This provides people with affordable health care and creates more choices in the insurance market.
“Our work will not be done until all New Mexicans have access to affordable, quality health care,” said Armstrong, chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee. “We need innovative policies like Medicaid buy-in to make sure all families are cared for.”
NM Together for Healthcare began its campaign after hearing from New Mexicans that despite recent improvements through the Affordable Care Act, quality health care is still out of reach for many.
“My father worked as a custodian for 30-plus years in the schools,” said Maximina Urritia, a healthcare leader from Anthony. “After retiring, both my parents fell ill. With no insurance, and a budget of $700 per month from my dad’s retirement, they knew they could not afford the medical attention or medications they needed. Without that care, they died too early. Healthcare would have saved my parents lives.”
Currently, more than 180,000 New Mexicans, like Maximina’s parents, don’t have healthcare coverage.
“No one should have to go without healthcare because it is too expensive,” said Sireesha Manne, healthcare supervising attorney at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, “Medicaid already helps more than 850,000 New Mexican children and families get comprehensive care, and could be opened up to everyone as a low-cost option. The buy-in plan is a promising solution.”
The campaign’s website can be found at: http://nmtogether4health.org/