Real Solutions

It's Time to Move Forward with Health Security

In this four-part series, we've talked about some of the problems with our current health care system—issues that remain even after passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Across the nation, and particularly in New Mexico, we are facing:

  • Rising premiums for policies both on and off the state health insurance exchange, along with growing out-of-pockets costs due to higher deductibles and copays
  • Decreasing numbers of in-network health care providers and facilities for many insurance plans
  • A dysfunctional insurance market that lacks healthy competition and sufficient options for consumers

Our current health care system, with its emphasis on private insurance, is fundamentally flawed. In a state with a small population, it does not make sense to have hundreds of insurance policies, each covering relatively few people. After all, the purpose of insurance is to share the risk. That's also where the advantages of "economies of scale" enter the picture.

Our complex and fragmented private insurance system also results in large overhead costs for health care providers—funds that could be better used to care for patients.

Finally, the ACA, while opening the door for many who never had insurance, has not succeeded in covering everyone in our state (approximately 13% remain uninsured), nor does the ACA have adequate cost control mechanisms for insurance premiums and pharmaceutical drugs.

As we said in our previous post in this series, something new and dramatically different needs to be done. And that something is passage of the New Mexico Health Security Act.

An Opportunity: The Waiver for State Innovation

We've been talking about the Affordable Care Act's Waiver for State Innovation provision since the bill was enacted. In fact, with the help of Sen. Jeff Bingaman's office, we played a part in getting this option included in the law.

This provision is critical because beginning on January 1, 2017, states can apply to set up health coverage approaches that are better suited to their circumstances than the exchange system. Once the waiver is approved, a state will still receive all federal dollars allowed under the ACA.

As early as 2011, President Obama stated the following:

This recognition that states need flexibility to tailor their approach to their unique needs is why part of the law says that, beginning in 2017, if you can come up with a better system for your state to provide coverage of the same quality and affordability as the Affordable Care Act, you can take that route instead. That portion of the law has not been remarked on much. It says by 2017, if you have a better way of doing it, help yourself, go ahead, take that route.

It is time for New Mexico to take advantage of this waiver, but to do that we need legislative approval of the alternative path we want our state to take.

What You Can Do

The New Mexico Health Security Act will be introduced this upcoming legislative session, which begins on January 17. It is a well-thought-out alternative that would enable New Mexico to set up its own cooperative-type plan, with comprehensive services and no more network restrictions.

Two independent studies have concluded that this approach would save hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars within five years of implementation. Legislators must step forward and support its passage.

To make that happen, we need your help, especially during this critical election cycle.

We ask that, starting today, you:

  1. Educate your friends, neighbors, family members, and co-workers about this important alternative.

    So many New Mexicans have not yet heard about the Health Security proposal. We want to change that.

  2. Contact us about informational presentations we can make to groups in your community.

    Think about contacts you have and groups you belong to. Presenting to groups uses our limited resources wisely.

  3. Let candidates for state legislative office know where you stand on this important issue.

    Speak up at candidate forums. Call, email, or meet with candidates who are hoping to represent you in the state legislature. Their vote may be the critical one that passes the Health Security Act!

And, of course, your donation is key to helping us continue our outreach work during this important time.