Thursday, July 26, 2012

Luján: New Reports Show Affordable Care Act Is Saving Seniors Money on Prescription Drugs and Reduces the Deficit

Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District highlighted two new reports that were recently released on the impact that the Affordable Care Act is having on New Mexico’s seniors as well as the effect it will have on the deficit.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released data showing that health insurance reform has already saved New Mexico seniors on Medicare $18,751,250 on prescription drugs. A report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the Affordable Health Care act will reduce the deficit by $109 billion over ten years.

“Thirty-three times House Republicans have voted to repeal the health care law. Thirty-three times House Republicans have voted to increase the deficit and force seniors to pay more for their prescription drugs,” Congressman Luján said. “In addition to the many other benefits – such as ending discrimination for pre-existing conditions and allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health care plan until age 26 – these reports make it clear that the people of New Mexico have much to gain through the Affordable Care Act and that they have already have more money in their pockets thanks to lower prescription drug costs. For seniors on a fixed budget, saving hundreds of dollars on life-saving medication will have a significant impact during this tough economic time.”

Key provisions in the Affordable Care Act addressed the rising costs of prescription drugs for seniors on Medicare. The law has already helped seniors who hit the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage gap or “donut hole.” In 2010, people with Medicare who hit the donut hole received a one-time $250 rebate, totaling more than $5 million for seniors in New Mexico. In 2011, people with Medicare began receiving a 50 percent discount on covered brand name drugs and 7 percent coverage of generic drugs in the donut hole. Last year, more than 19,000 Medicare beneficiaries in New Mexico received $9.7 million in discounts, saving the average beneficiary $497. This year, Medicare coverage for generic drugs in the coverage gap has increased to 14 percent, already saving seniors $4 million.

The CBO’s findings, released on Tuesday, make it clear that efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act will significantly add to the deficit. While the law will save $109 billion over the next ten years, CBO also found that the Affordable Care Act will reduce the deficit by roughly $1.5 trillion in the second decade.

July 26, 2012 at 12:40 PM in Healthcare, Obama Health Care Reform, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Senior Citizens | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

NM Retiree Leader Slams Rep. Pearce & US House for Voting Against Seniors, Medicare

The following statement was issued today by Barbara Pardo, President of the New Mexico Alliance for Retired Americans, in response to the U.S. House voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act:

“Representative Steve Pearce and the U.S. House shamefully voted to take away Medicare benefits that are helping seniors here in New Mexico better afford to see a doctor and fill a prescription.

“New Mexican retirees are upset that, in voting for repeal, Rep. Pearce chose ideology and partisan politics over seniors’ basic needs. We are pleased that Reps Heinrich & Lujan stood up against the powerful special interests in support of a law that is helping workers and retirees across our state.

In our state, nearly 20,000 Medicare beneficiaries have already saved a total of $17.6 million on their prescriptions. This is what Rep. Pearce voted to take away from our seniors today. Thanks to what Pearce calls "ObamaCare", over 200,000 New Mexican seniors have received free, life-saving tests for chronic diseases. Seniors call that accountable health care and wonder what Rep. Pearce is thinking by voting so obsessively to repeal such a great deal for all New Mexicans.

“Retirees worry about their children and grandchildren, and are happy that the law allows young adults under age 26 stay on their parents’ health insurance. Seniors are glad to see working families finally protected from the greed and outrageous business practices of the insurance companies.

“This was the 33rd vote in Congress to repeal this law, a law that in the past two years has been approved by both houses of Congress, signed by the President, and upheld by the Supreme Court. It is time to move on. Political gamesmanship will not help a single retiree, worker, or students live a better, healthier life. Rep. Pearce needs to focus on serving New Mexicans instead of his Wall Street buddies.”

July 11, 2012 at 06:05 PM in Healthcare, Obama Health Care Reform, Senior Citizens, Steve Pearce | Permalink | Comments (0)

Health Care Vote: Pearce Snubs Struggling NM families by Voting for Obamacare Repeal

The Supreme Court has ruled that Obamacare is constitutional, but today Congressman Steve Pearce refused to move on and told struggling families in New Mexico that politics trumps their health care when he voted to repeal the landmark health-reform law.

By voting for repeal, Pearce indicated he clearly agrees with allowing insurance companies deny families coverage because of preexisting conditions. His vote also means he opposes providing small businesses tax credits to buy insurance; and that he supports throwing thousands of our senior citizens back into the prescription-drug donut hole.

“It shouldn’t come as any surprise.” said Frank Cole, Communications Director for Protect Your Care New Mexico. “Representative Pearce has historically put the interests of the insurance industry above the health needs of his own constituency.”

Nearly one in four New Mexicans lives without insurance. It is estimated that hundreds die every year from health conditions which could have been prevented had those suffering had proper medical coverage. But without insurance, many avoid the doctor until it’s too late.

Steve Pearce would have you believe that the law is bad for New Mexico. But here are the facts:

  • Obamacare gives 320,000 seniors access to free preventive services under Medicare and relief to 20,000 more who fall into the donut hole.
  • 11,000 young adults are now on their parent’s plan until they’re 26.
  • It makes it illegal for providers to place lifetime limits on coverage or drop coverage due to an illness for the 900,000 New Mexicans with private insurance.
  • And it begins to provide insurance for those without it by expanding Medicaid and creating health insurance exchanges, making private insurance more affordable and easier to shop for.

That’s just a few of the benefits Pearce would like to see disappear.

July 11, 2012 at 04:01 PM in Healthcare, Obama Health Care Reform, Republican Party, Steve Pearce | Permalink | Comments (2)

Luján: House Republicans’ Partisan Agenda to Repeal Health Care Ignores Need to Create Jobs

Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District released the following statement today on House Republicans’ attempt to once again repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“It is time for House Republicans to stop wasting time on partisan efforts to repeal health insurance reform. Today’s vote – the 33rd time House Republicans have tried to repeal patient protections – will not hide the fact that they have failed to offer an agenda to create jobs for the American people.

“Instead of trying to repeal a law that protects people with pre-existing conditions, provides free preventive care to seniors, and helps small businesses provide health insurance for their workers, the House should spend time on legislation that can put people back to work.”

July 11, 2012 at 03:09 PM in Healthcare, Obama Health Care Reform, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Obamacare: Surreal in so many ways by Peter Moulson

The moment so many had been waiting for, the Supreme Court’s decision on what has become known as Obamacare started with a crash as Fox and CNN got it wrong by broadcasting that the Supremes had struck down the Individual Mandate from the ACA (Obamacare). It soon became clear that these Bastions of the Truth had got it wrong, and the Supreme Court had in fact upheld Obamacare.

As the initial shock wore off and strategy meetings were held, a group of excited, surprised, even astonished activists and politicians met for a 2:00pm press conference in front of the Federal Court building in downtown Albuquerque, almost oblivious to the near-100 degree heat.

Obamacare.06.28.2012.participants gather
“ACA supporters gather outside the Federal Courthouse.” (Photo: Peter Moulson)

Chris Cervini, director of Know Your Care New Mexico introduced Senators Dede Feldman and Jerry Ortiz y Pino, and physician Dr. Dan Derksen to the waiting TV media. The well-messaged points were that today’s ruling was an outstanding success for healthcare in our country and it is now time to pressure the Martinez administration to take advantage of the millions of dollars being made available to us to assist with Medicaid in New Mexico.

Senator Feldman called on the governor and the legislature “to stop horsing around and implement this law of the land.” Expanding Medicaid and developing a strong healthcare insurance exchange are essential she said, and then millions of dollars in Federal aid will be made available to New Mexico. “Hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans will benefit.”

Dr. Derksen highlighted the fact that in New Mexico with a population of little over 2,000,000 -- 340,000 are without health insurance.

“This woman is Dine and with OLE New Mexico. She supports the ACA and noted that 40% of Native Americans in NM are currently uninsured.” (photo Lora Lucero)

The excitement was palpable. Yet so was the underlying confusion. What did this mean? Why did they vote this way when we were so convinced they were going to shred the Affordable Healthcare Act in its entirety? And where exactly do we go from here?

Racing out of the heat in search of shelter, a large group from the press conference landed at Marble Brewery to celebrate. Chris Cervini brought the house to order by raising his glass in a toast to Justice Roberts, “certainly for the first and last time.”

Chris Cervini.06.28.2012
“A toast to Justice Roberts!” (photo: Peter Moulson)

You can bet your boots the Republicans will continue to challenge the ACA, but right now, let’s enjoy the moment.

June 29, 2012 at 08:23 AM in Events, Guest Blogger, Healthcare, Obama Health Care Reform | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Affordable Care Act Upheld by Supreme Court

The Health care reform act was challenged clear up to the US Supreme Court and the decision was rendered today. It is satisfying to know the highest court in the land upheld the constitutionality of this important legislation. The final deciding vote was cast by Chief Judge John Roberts, appointed by Bush 43.

This will not stop the republicans at all, in fact it will embolden them. As Pearce says at the end of these statements, "The House has scheduled a vote on the full repeal of ObamaCare during the week of July 9."

What a contrast of message from the R's to the D's about good news for the people of this Country.

Let's contribute to the State races for the NM House of Representatives. You know the SusanaPac is rolling in the dough today with this news. Please start with a contribution to my race for NM House District 30. Please go to this ActBlue link here, thank you in advance.

Below are the statements from all of NM Congressional leaders:

Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s CD-3 released the following statement today on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act.

“For too long, families and small businesses in New Mexico have seen their health care costs skyrocket as they continue to pay more and receive less. The ranks of the uninsured grew while insurance companies continued to deny or drop coverage for those who needed it most. That is why President Obama and Democrats in Congress took action to pass health insurance reform that ends the insurance companies’ worst abuses, expands coverage, and takes steps to bring down costs for hard-working New Mexicans.

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the law is an important victory for the people of New Mexico. Young adults will be able to remain on their parents’ insurance plan, those with pre-existing conditions will be assured that they will have health insurance, and seniors will continue to pay less for prescription drugs and receive free preventive care.

“It is now abundantly clear that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and that the people of New Mexico will continue to benefit from its many important provisions.”

Congressman Martin Heinrich (CD-1) Statement On Supreme Court Decision Upholding Health Care Reform 

U.S. Senate candidate Martin Heinrich released the following statement today after the Supreme Court ruled the Affordable Care Act constitutional:

“The Supreme Court has spoken, declaring the Affordable Care Act constitutional. This decision means New Mexicans will continue to benefit from expanded access to quality, affordable health care.

“Now it’s time to move on to the major economic problems facing our country. Our focus needs to be on creating jobs and getting our economy back on track. The finger-pointing needs to end and Washington needs to get its priorities straight by cutting waste and ending the Bush tax breaks for millionaires and companies that outsource jobs, so we can focus on job creation and strengthening Social Security and Medicare."

Michelle Lujan Grisham Candidate for CD-1: Health Care Debate Must Shift to Controlling Costs

Congressional candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham, who has spent her career as an advocate for quality health care, said the Supreme Court’s decision today is a victory for the thousands of New Mexico families that deserve access to quality, affordable health care.

“This is a victory for New Mexico families because insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to people with asthma, cancer or heart disease, or force women to pay more for health care,” Michelle Lujan Grisham said. “This is a good first step toward reforming our broken health care system.

“However, there is still work to be done. When I get to Congress I will work to require health insurance companies to put patients before profits. We must control health care costs, improve quality and train more health care workers.”

Senator Udall Statement on Supreme Court’s Health Care Ruling Following the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:

"When Congress and President Obama first took up this issue, we knew it wouldn't be easy. The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act is the best possible outcome for the American people. Today, quality, affordable health care is a major step closer to becoming a reality for millions of Americans who live one accident or diagnosis away from losing everything. For these families, health care is an economic matter with the very real consequences of life, death and bankruptcy. As a nation, and across New Mexico, we cannot afford to go back to just a short time ago when insurance coverage for all was further from reach, when children with cancer could be denied coverage, and when unemployed, recent college graduates would be kicked off their parents' insurance by age 22.

"We can still improve upon the law we've put into place, but today, New Mexico has already received more than $200 million in grants and loans to establish an insurance exchange, strengthen community health centers, train new health professionals and so much more. Since passing the law, more than 26,000 young adults under 26-years-old in our state have been allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance plans. Almost 20,000 New Mexico seniors on Medicare received a rebate to help cover prescription costs when they hit the donut hole in 2010. And 285,000 New Mexicans with private health insurance no longer have to pay a deductible or copayment for preventive care like physicals, cancer screenings and vaccinations. More is yet to come.

"Today's decision marks another turning point in our country's approach to health care equality. Now’s the time to put aside partisanship and work together to make our health care policy even stronger."

Republican NMCD-2 Rep. Steve Pearce issued the following statement:

Supreme Court Decision Allows for New Obamacare Tax on New Mexico Families

“I have long believed that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2011 was an unconstitutional overreach by the President. ObamaCare is a violation of our individual rights and an expansion of federal government power our nation’s founders would have found unfathomable.

“The Supreme Court, which has the responsibility of interpreting the law, found this overreach acceptable as a tax. While I do not agree, I respect its authority to make this interpretation.

“Since day one, the Obama Administration has denied that his law was a tax on the American people. Yet, the Obama Administration will claim victory, when all this law does is assess a greater financial burden on hardworking American families and small business owners.

“ObamaCare puts government bureaucrats between patients and their doctors, hurts small businesses and creates trillions in new government spending that will add a huge new weight to our already overloaded deficit.

“We need to get back to work on repealing this ‘tax’ and reforming our healthcare system. These reforms must be focused on protecting patient access to the care they need from the doctor they choose.”

The Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the law is constitutional. The House has scheduled a vote on the full repeal of ObamaCare during the week of July 9.

June 28, 2012 at 04:17 PM in 2012 Legislature Races, Healthcare, Michelle Lujan Grisham, NM Congressional Delegation, Obama Health Care Reform, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Sen. Tom Udall, Steve Pearce | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Guest Blog by Alex Cotoia: Supreme Court’s Ruling on the Constitutionality of the ACA

Alex cotoiaAlexander Cotoia is a paralegal with the firm of Holt Mynatt Martinez P.C. in Las Cruces, and a member of the Democratic Party State Central Committee.  He has authored several guest columns that have appeared on this site.

In a matter of days, the U.S. Supreme Court will weigh in on the future of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), as it issues its much anticipated decision governing the constitutionality of the law under the federal Constitution. Exhaustively discussed in legal and political circles, the ACA contains a number of controversial provisions, including the hotly contested “individual mandate” or “minimum coverage provision” that conservatives view as anathema; an impermissible encroachment on an individual’s economic liberty.

If the Court were to accept this argument and strike down the ACA or any portion of the Act as constitutionally incompatible, it would be engaging in an egregious act of judicial activism; upending the principle of congressional deference and subverting the justification for “rational basis” review, which long recognized that Congress possesses plenary, or exclusive power over the regulation of interstate commerce. As Justice Breyer noted in dissent in the landmark case of U.S. v. Lopez—the seminal case in which the Court departed from nearly a half century of settled jurisprudence—the Court’s function is to assess “not whether the regulated activity sufficiently affected interstate commerce, but, rather, whether Congress could have had a rational basis for so concluding.”

That a rational basis exists for regulating the health insurance market is beyond legitimate contention. The unique nature of American health care, coupled with the inability of an individual to opt out (even those with the strongest immune systems are likely to fall ill at least once during their lifespan) left Congress little choice but to fashion legislation that included a minimum coverage provision to curb skyrocketing health care costs, and eradicate the ‘cost-shifting’ that is largely responsible for escalating premiums. Far from being without precedent, this is exactly the kind of “broader regulatory scheme” that the Supreme Court has consistently deemed constitutionally permissible, even in cases where the regulated activity was of a “wholly intrastate [and] . . . non-economic” character. (For a more detailed discussion about Commerce Clause jurisprudence, see opinion by a federal judge upholding the constitutionality of the ACA here:

I’m not saying the ACA is perfect—it isn’t. In a world in which the United States stands alone among our industrialized counterparts in providing health care as a matter of right to its citizens, the better, but far more controversial option would have been to expand Medicare and eliminate the private insurance market altogether. But this President recognizes political reality, and chose to pass legislation that dramatically expanded health care coverage to uninsured Americans; banned discrimination based on pre-existing conditions; and required insurance companies to cover a host of preventative care services without requiring a co-payment from the consumer. On balance, the ACA is a positive first-step in recognizing that access to quality, affordable health care is an integral part of American competitiveness. If Americans are to have an edge with our competitors the world over, it is imperative that we live both productive and healthy lives.

For this reason, the Court would do well to reject the frenzied contentions of the reactionary right and give new meaning to the principle of stare decisis. Allowing the ACA to stand is both legally sound and practically expedient. If conservatives truly were champions of judicial restraint, they would agree.

June 21, 2012 at 02:49 PM in Guest Blogger, Healthcare, Obama Health Care Reform | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Health Groups to Parents: Affordable Care Act Can Be Real Life Saver

Event information provided by New Mexico Voices for Children.

Presentations at PB&J Family Services to illustrate benefits of health reform for kids

Community health advocates will speak to parents and staff at two Peanut Butter and Jelly Family Services locations this week, highlighting the benefits of health care reform for children and families. PB&J works with at-risk children, helping them grow and develop to their full potential in nurturing families within a supportive community.

Under the Affordable Care Act, children can no longer be denied health insurance coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Also, insurers must cover comprehensive screenings and preventative care for children—including well-child visits—with no co-pays. More child-specific benefits will come online in 2014.

The educational forums will be held this Tuesday and Wednesday at PB&J locations in Bernalillo and Albuquerque’s Southeast Heights.

These educational forums are part of a series of events celebrating the 2nd anniversary of the passage of health reform this week.

WHAT: Educational Forums

WHO: Peanut Butter and Jelly of Albuquerque, Health Action New Mexico, New Mexico Voices for Children, Know Your Care NM

WHEN/WHERE: Tuesday, March 20, 10:15am, at PB&J of NM, 255-A Camino Del Pueblo in Bernalillo

WHEN/WHERE: Wednesday, March 21, 10am, at PB&J of NM, 206 San Pablo SE, Albuquerque

March 19, 2012 at 04:02 PM in Children and Families, Events, Healthcare, Obama Health Care Reform | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

3/19: New Mexico Seniors to Rep. Steve Pearce: We LOVE the Affordable Care Act!

Seniors to present letter to Pearce’s Las Cruces and Los Lunas offices to mark 2nd Anniversaryof Affordable Care Act

On March 19,2012 – In recognition of the 2nd anniversary of passage of the Affordable Care Act health reform law, leading senior-citizen advocates from Southern New Mexico will present a letter on behalf of seniors to Rep. Steve Pearce at his offices in Las Cruces and Los Lunas on Monday, March 19. 

The letter highlights many of the senior benefits of the Affordable Care Act, underscoring just how important the legislation has become for seniors across New Mexico.

As aresult of health reform, every New Mexico senior on Medicare – some 316,000 people – are now eligible for new, free-preventative care services such as flu shots and colonoscopies. More than 20,000 New Mexicans have benefitted from prescription drug donut-hole coverage, helping them pay for costly medications.

These presentations to Rep. Pearce are part of a series of events celebrating theanniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act the week of March 19-23.

WHO:  NM Alliance for Retired Americans, Know Your Care New Mexico

WHAT:  Presentation of letters on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act to Rep. Pearce

WHERE:  The district offices of Rep. Pearce in Las Cruces and Los Lunas
Las Cruces Office, 570 N Telshor Blvd, LasCruces, NM 88011
Los Lunas Office, 3445 Lambros Loop NE, Los Lunas

WHEN:  March 19, 2012,  Las Cruces Presentation 11 a.m., Los Lunas Presentation 2 p.m.

March 17, 2012 at 10:40 AM in Events, Healthcare, Obama Health Care Reform, Senior Citizens, Steve Pearce | Permalink | Comments (0)

3/19: HHS Assistant Secretary for Aging in Albuquerque to talk to seniors about new Affordable Care Act benefits

Kathy Greenlee will visit North Valley Senior Center, help seniors celebrate the 2nd anniversary of landmark health-reform law

On March 19, 2012 – Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee will be in New Mexico on Monday to visit with Seniors at North Valley Senior Center in Albuquerque from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Greenlee will be in New Mexico to help local seniors celebrate the two-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act with a birthday cake and brief presentation on the benefits New Mexico seniors can now enjoy as a result of health reform.

Such benefits include a wide range of free preventative care services, prescription-drug donut-hole assistance and coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

This event is part of a series of events celebrating the anniversary of the passage of Affordable Care Act the week of March 19-23.

WHO: HHS Assistant Secretary on Aging Kathy Greenlee
WHAT: 2nd Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act celebration presentation at the North Valley Senior Center.
WHERE:  North Valley Senior Center, 3825 4th Street Northwest, Albuquerque
WHEN:  11 a.m., March 19, 2012. 

March 17, 2012 at 10:30 AM in Events, Healthcare, Obama Health Care Reform, Senior Citizens | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 05, 2012

A Checkup on Americans' Views of Healthcare Reform from the LA Times

This article on Healthcare was passed on to democracyfornewmexico and we feel it is a good description of a complex topic. There's a lot of disinformation about the measure that President Obama signed into law almost two years ago, so a closer look at what it does and doesn't do is in order.

It's been almost two years since President Obama signed healthcare reform into law. And even now, it seems most Americans still have no clue as to what was approved or how it works.

A USA Today / Gallup poll released this week shows that almost three-quarters of us think a requirement for nearly all people to buy insurance — the so-called individual mandate — is unconstitutional. About 70% of poll respondents say the reform law hasn't affected them personally. Roughly a third of Americans say the changes won't make any difference for their family, and 38% say they'll make things worse.

Only 24% of respondents say they expect the reform law to improve things.

It's not my intent to take sides here. There are some things about the law that I like (such as guaranteeing coverage to all, regardless of medical condition), and some that I don't (not enough attention to curbing sky-high costs; millions left uninsured).

But in the interests of cutting through some of the disinformation out there, let's take a closer look at what this law actually does and doesn't do.

"People don't seem to understand that the healthcare reform law already has a very significant impact on their lives," said Shana Alex Lavarreda, director of health insurance studies at UCLA's Center for Health Policy Research.

For example, she said, Medicare patients are now entitled to free preventive care, as well as more comprehensive coverage of prescription drugs. And there are other changes that touch virtually everyone in everyday ways.

"If you walked into a restaurant and looked at the calorie counts on the menu, and if you changed your order as a result, you were affected by the healthcare reform law," Lavarreda observed. "The law put those calorie counts in place."

California has required such info on menus since 2009 for chain restaurants with 20 or more locations. The reform law applies that same standard on a nationwide basis.

What about some of the bigger issues highlighted by the Gallup poll? First, the notion that an individual mandate may be unconstitutional. More specifically, the U.S. Supreme Court will be tackling the question of whether Congress has the right to impose such a mandate nationwide.

Proponents such as Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe say this falls under well-established precedents for Congress to do whatever is "necessary and proper" to regulate interstate commerce. Allowing people to remain uninsured yet still be assured emergency care merely shifts medical costs to others.

"There's no right to force a society to pay for your medical care by taking a free ride on the system," Tribe said during a debate at Harvard last year.

Critics say Congress is overstepping its authority by requiring people to buy a product they may not want. "The bill requires everyone to buy health insurance whether they seek healthcare or not," Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett said at the same debate.

Reform backers counter that it's not as if lawmakers are holding a gun to people's heads and forcing them to be insured. Rather, most people who aren't covered through their jobs would have to buyinsurance or face a fine of up to 2.5% of household income.

For those pulling down $60,000 a year, that's as much as $1,500. If you're cool with paying such a sum instead of buying discounted coverage from a private insurer, as will be the case when online"insurance exchanges" open for business in 2014, that's your business.

The key point here is that health insurance works effectively only when everyone's in the risk pool — young and old, sick and well.

A mandate is what makes feasible the reform law's guarantee of coverage of everyone, no matter what their medical condition. Without a mechanism to expand the risk pool, many people would naturally wait until they need insurance before buying coverage.

This would cause premiums to skyrocket and make insurance even less affordable and accessible than it is now. Anyone who opposes a mandate, therefore, needs to accommodate this outcome in some other way, such as maintaining the current system of allowing insurers to pick and choose whom they'll cover.

More than two-thirds of respondents to the Gallup poll say the reform law hasn't affected them personally. In reality, it almost certainly has — they just don't know it.

As UCLA's Lavarreda noted, calorie counts on menus are a modest example of how everyone is touched by the law. Another is a requirement that insurers provide coverage through family plans for young people up to age 26.

According to the Census Bureau, almost a quarter of the nation's more than 311 million people are under 18. That's nearly 75million young people. It's unclear how many others are between 18 and 26, but we're clearly talking millions of young adults.

In other words, even if you don't have kids of your own, you almost surely know someone who does. The fact that health coverage is now available to these young people represents a significant change for people you may care about.

Moreover, it affects you directly by bringing more young and healthy people into the system, thus keeping your own rates down. It doesn't get more personal than that.

As for the 34% in the Gallup poll who say healthcare reform won't make any difference, not to mention the 38% who say it will only make things worse, I'm not sure where such sentiment arises.

The reform law extends coverage to roughly 30 million people who currently lack insurance. That can only mean fewer uninsured people seeking emergency treatment, which can only mean lower overall medical costs and insurance premiums.

By any measure, those are improvements over our current situation of about 50 million people lacking coverage and family insurance rates that are as much as $1,500 higher annually because of the cost of treating the uninsured, according a study by the advocacy group FamiliesUSA.

The healthcare reform law isn't perfect, and I respect people's right to criticize or oppose it. But it helps to know the facts.

The facts are these: Our current system is broken. The reform law addresses a number of things that need to be fixed. It also leaves many issues outstanding (not least, projected multitrillion-dollar deficits for Medicare in coming decades).

We still have much to discuss. The discussion would be much improved if people looked past knee-jerk ideological positions and actually thought things through.

For a change.

To read the article By David Lazarus as published on March 2, 2012 click here.

March 5, 2012 at 11:22 AM in Healthcare, Obama Health Care Reform | |

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Health Reformers to Guv Martinez: Don’t Whiff on Great Opportunity to Create Health Insurance Exchange This Session

Health-reform advocates today called on Governor Martinez to allow Sen. George Munoz’s health insurance exchange legislation to be debated this legislative session.

Munoz’s Senate Bill 278 can be found here.

A health insurance exchange is a competitive health-care marketplace where the uninsured, underinsured and people in the individual and small-group market will be able to buy affordable health coverage under the nation’s health-reform law, the Affordable Care Act.

Each state has been tasked under the law with creating their own version of an exchange. If a state fails to create an exchange, the federal government will create one for it. In New Mexico, Governor Martinez appears to be opting to bypass the Legislature and create an exchange via Executive Order.

“What is potentially troubling here is that the Governor’s early plans for an exchange give insurance company representatives a prominent role in governing the exchange and setting rates,” said Barbara K. Webber, Executive Director of Health Action New Mexico. “I can think of no situation where putting an industry in charge of setting its own rates would benefit consumers and working-class New Mexicans. It would be like the fox guarding the henhouse.”

Health-reform advocates support more health-consumer voices on the exchange and see Munoz’s bill as an excellent opportunity to have a discussion about the exchange and give the public a voice in the debate about how the exchange is structured.

“We are simply asking for Senator Munoz’s bill to be allowed to be heard,” Webber said. “All New Mexicans will be better off if the exchange is created through an open Legislative process rather than behind closed doors via Executive Order. The public deserves a debate on this important issue that will impact tens of thousands of New Mexicans.”

Health-reform advocates are asking the members of the public to call Governor Martinez at 505-476-2200 and ask her to allow the Health Insurance Exchange issue to be heard this legislative session, which ends Feb. 16.

February 2, 2012 at 11:40 AM in Action Alerts, Healthcare, NM Legislature 2012, Obama Health Care Reform | |