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Monday, October 22, 2007

Guest Blog: NM Health Security Act & Legislative Health & Human Services Interim Committee

This is a guest blog by Terry Riley, who is an advocate for the Health Security Act for New Mexico:

New Mexico needs health care reform as badly as any other state in the union. We are in a very fortunate position because our legislature has been studying the problem over the last two years at least and there are several proposals being considered. There is only one proposal that is significantly different from the other proposals. I have been attending the Health and Human Services Interim Legislative Committee all around the state this year. There have been some very amazing presentations from experts from outside of New Mexico and from within New Mexico. I have learned a tremendous amount about the problems of health care financing as have our legislators. I believe that they have enough information to make an intelligent decision.

The Health Security Act is offered as a co-op and as such is the closest thing to a single-payer universal coverage plan. All of the other plans being considered protect the position of the private-for-profit insurance companies. The insurance companies provide a service that has nothing to do with your care.  In addition to the cost of processing the claims from health care providers and collecting the premiums from their clients, the health insurance companies have to provide a profit to the investors of their companies.  One company, United Healthcare, paid out a retirement package to their CEO upon retirement of $1.6 BILLION.

I like to consider how many medical procedures could have been paid for out of that obscene payout. I also ask you to consider how much more could the insurance company have paid their base employees if they had not paid this huge retirement?

The most recent sessions were held this month in Espanola on Wednesday and in Santa Fe on Thursday and Friday, Oct 17, 18, and 19. I attended the hearing on Thursday Oct 18th. During the previous meetings around the state I have been impressed with the overall tone of the discussions. Thursday I became terribly disappointed. Chaos prevailed! My best assessment of that session is that nobody wanted to be responsible for the decision. Individual legislators were strong in their support of the Health Security Act or the other plans but the committee wanted nothing to do with the decision. 

At one point the committee chair, Senator Dede Feldman, called for a straw poll by ballot for who supported a single-payer system and who supported an insurance industry system. The results were 8 supported a single-payer system and 6 supported the insurance industry system. Senator Feldman moved quickly on to further discussion. NOTHING was done about the vote that supported a single-payer universal health care system!

Call Senator Feldman and ask her why she did this! She suddenly reminded me of House Speaker Nancy Peloci. I doubt that the committee will be able to propose any legislation other than the Governor's plan. The Governor's plan may be the worst legislation that he will have offered in his whole term as Governor of New Mexico. You can contact Senator Feldman at:

Senator:  Dede Feldman, District: 13
County(s): Bernalillo
Senator Since: 1997
Party: Democrat
Occupation: Public Relations
Address: 1821 Meadowview NW
Albuquerque, NM 87104
Capitol Office Phone: 986-4482
Office Phone:   
Home Phone:  (505) 242-1997
E-mail:  dede.feldman@nmlegis.gov

The New Mexico Legislature almost always has a public input period in committee hearings. I would like to share with you what I had to say. The very last part of my comment had to be trunkated because I ran over the two minutes allowed. I cut it off of the recording because it did not make sense because I did not finish my statement. Download rileyclip.wav

Information regarding the Health Security Act is available from www.whatifyouknew-nm.com and www.nmhealthsecurity.org . You can read the Health Security Act on either web site and you can read the Mathematica Report on the www.whatifyouknew-nm.com web site.

Terry Riley
Advocate for: Health Security Act for New Mexico

Editor's Note: This is a guest blog by Albuquerque activist Terry Riley. Guest blogs provide our readers with an opportunity to express their opinions on relevant issues of the day. They may or may not express our views. If you'd like to submit a post for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link on the upper left-hand corner of the page.

October 22, 2007 at 10:16 AM in Guest Blogger, Healthcare, NM Legislature 2007 | Permalink