NM Medical Society Support

New Mexico Medical Society Supports Passage of Health Security Act

Last Thursday, four proponents of the Health Security Act had the chance to speak in front of the Senate Public Affairs Committee. One of them was Dr. Rick Madden, who spoke on behalf of the New Mexico Medical Association. 

We'd like to share his remarks with you:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. Thank you for allowing me to speak. I am speaking representing the New Mexico Medical Society, our state professional organization for physicians.

I'm a family physician in Belen. I've been there 34 years. The Medical Society took up the Health Security Act a couple of years ago in our house of delegates, and we decided that we wanted to support the Health Security Act in 2017. We still stand by that. Particular emphasis, at the beginning of this bill, is fiscal analysis, and that's particularly what the Medical Society wants to support. Can we afford this? Will it provide what it says it will provide for the number of people?

As a practicing family physician, I can tell you many times over the years I've seen patients who did not have healthcare coverage leave my practice after one visit because they couldn't afford the next visit. When they got care under expanded Medicaid, or they got an employer that was able to cover it, they came back. The key is that their health improved. They were able to provide for their families because they could keep their job. That helped the economy; that helped the wealth of the state. . . .

The Medical Society does support this and for good reasons, for the care of our patients. I also, on another note, represent the New Mexico Academy of Family Physicians. I'm the Chair of the Legislative Affairs Committee, and we also support this bill. Thank you very much.

Dr. Madden (standing, far right) speaks to the Senate Public Affairs Committee on February 7 regarding SB 279.

Dr. Madden (standing, far right) speaks to the Senate Public Affairs Committee on February 7 regarding SB 279.

The next two hearings on the Health Security Act should be coming up soon. We'll let you know as soon as they're scheduled.

HB 295 will be heard next in the House State Government, Elections & Indian Affairs Committee, and SB 279 will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Keep Us Going!

You might be surprised to know that even with the legislature in session, we haven't slowed down one bit with our education and outreach efforts. 

We're talking with community leaders, community groups, and everyday New Mexicans in towns and cities across the state, and we're reaching out to media contacts to inform even more people about the Health Security Act. And, of course, we're keeping you involved and up to date with email alerts and this website. 

Please support this important work with 
your donation today.  

Great Start for Health Security in the House

The House Health & Human Services Committee passed the Health Security Act (HB 295) this morning by a vote of 5 to 2!

After hearing from two lobbyists who spoke in opposition to the bill, the committee turned to all those who came to speak in favor of the Health Security Act. Speakers included medical professionals, small-business owners, representatives of community organizations, and lots of other New Mexicans who came to speak about how this bill would help them, their family members, and our beautiful state.

Listen to the hearing here, or click on the image below.

HB 295 now heads to the House State Government, Elections & Indian Affairs Committee.

For the latest developments, please sign up for our email alerts.

Health Security Passes First Committee!

The Senate Public Affairs Committee passed the Health Security Act (SB 279) this evening by a vote of 4 to 2. 

SB 279 in Senate Public Affairs.JPG

The room was packed with Health Security Act supporters. Testimony, however, was limited to four speakers on each side of the issue. 

Those who spoke in favor of Health Security touched on benefits such as improved quality of care and economic benefits for small businesses. Those who spoke in opposition were all from the insurance industry. 

The bill now progresses to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The House version of the bill, HB 295, is scheduled to be heard Friday morning in the Health & Human Services Committee.

For the latest developments, please sign up for our email alerts.

Hearings Scheduled!

The Health Security Act is scheduled for two hearings this week.

Thursday, February 7, 1:30 PM (or half an hour after the floor session ends), Room 321

The Senate Public Affairs Committee will be hearing SB 279 (the Health Security Act in the Senate) on Thursday afternoon. 

Friday, February 8, 8:00 AM, Room 315

The House Health & Human Services Committee will be hearing HB 295 (the Health Security Act in the House) on Friday morning.

Come in person if you can, or watch the hearings live.

For the latest developments, please sign up for our email alerts.


NM Legislature, Day 18

The $64,000 question: Why is it taking so long?

Short answer: 
The Health Security Act is not the only bill out there!*

Long answer:
Most committees hear bills in the order in which the bills were referred to that committee, so we need to wait our turn. 

Both of the Health Security Act's first committee assignments—the House Health & Human Services Committee and the Senate Public Affairs Committee—are already fielding full dockets.** The Health & Human Services Committee is even meeting this Saturday! (The committee’s regularly scheduled days are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.)

So, as hard as it is, we need to be patient.

Hopeful outlook: 
It looks as though both bills may be heard toward the end of next week. For the latest developments, please sign up for our email alerts.

* Fun fact #1
: So far, 437 bills have been introduced in the Senate and 449 have been introduced in the House, for a grand total of 886 bills. The last day to introduce legislation is February 14. 

** Fun fact #2: Both the House Health & Human Services Committee and the Senate Public Affairs Committee are chaired by Health Security Act sponsors: Rep. Debbie Armstrong on the House side and Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino on the Senate side.

NM Legislature, Day 11

Health Security Act Update

There’s no movement on the Health Security Act (SB 279 and HB 295) just yet—to stay in the loop, sign up for our email alerts. First committee in the Senate is Public Affairs; first committee in the House is Health & Human Services.

While you’re waiting, check out two recent news pieces on Health Security: an editorial in the Las Cruces Sun-News and an article in the Albuquerque-area Alibi. For additional media coverage, take a look at our In the Media page.

And if you’re in the mood for more reading, the 2019 Health Security Act is posted at the bottom of our The Plan page, along with a table of contents and an index to help you navigate your way through the bill. The Plan Summary is also useful in this regard.

Campaign Member Organizations

We have seven new member organizations!

  • Indivisible Nob Hill

  • Rio Arriba County Community Health Council

  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 611

  • Las Vegas/San Miguel Chamber of Commerce

  • CWA Legislative Council

  • Centro Savila

  • Sandoval County Health Council

What do Campaign member organizations do? They publicly support passage of the Health Security Act (in their communities and, for those who can, at the legislature); they talk about Health Security to their members and associates; and they encourage their membership and others to individually get involved by signing up for Health Security email alerts and contacting their legislators. 

When we advocate for the Health Security Act, we have the power of our 160+ member organizations behind us.

2019 Health Security Act Introduced

[Updated January 24, 2019 to include all sponsor names]

SB279 front page.JPG

The 2019 Health Security Act was introduced in both houses of the New Mexico legislature on January 21. 

In the Senate, it’s bill number 279 (so, SB 279); in the House, it’s bill number 295 (so, HB 295). For committee assignments, see “What Happens Next?” below.

The full bill is available on our The Plan page, along with a table of contents and index.

Senate Bill

Sens. Carlos Cisneros, Jerry Ortiz y Pino, Bill Soules, Richard Martinez, and Peter Wirth introduced the Health Security Act in the State Senate.

Sen. Cisneros, who is vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee, noted that “passage of the Health Security Act this year will initially result in a prudent fiscal analysis of the details of the plan. No other steps will be taken until we are certain that the finances will work and that it will be revenue neutral.” As Sen. Cisneros indicated, the first phase of the Act will be a fiscal analysis to make certain that the Health Security Plan is financially feasible. Only after that is determined will the plan be set up.

Sen. Ortiz y Pino, chair of the Senate Public Affairs Committee, observed that “the time has come for the Health Security Act. I feel that it will pass the legislature this year and start us on the path to financially sustainable, affordable, quality health care for all New Mexicans.”

House Bill

Reps. Debbie Armstrong, Bobby Gonzales, Gail Chasey, Patricia Roybal Caballero, and Joanne Ferrary introduced the Health Security Act in the State House of Representatives.

Sen. Armstrong, who chairs the Health and Human Services Committee, noted, “The Health Security Act will make a great improvement in our lives. It is a systemic solution that ensures that all New Mexicans will have health insurance coverage with comprehensive benefits. Since the premiums will be on a sliding scale based on income, working families will be able to afford it.”

Over 160 New Mexico organizations support the Health Security Act, and 35 counties and municipalities have passed resolutions in support. The most recent was the City of Albuquerque, which passed its resolution with a bipartisan 9-0 vote.

What Happens Next?

Each bill has been assigned to three committees.

HB 295 committees: Health & Human Services, then State Government, Elections & Indian Affairs, then Appropriations & Finance

SB 279 committees: Public Affairs, then Judiciary, then Finance

The bill goes to each assigned committee in turn. If your senator or representative is on a committee that’s considering the Health Security Act, we’ll be asking you to call to express your support for passage. And of course when the bill gets to the full House or Senate, all the legislators have a chance to vote. (For more information on how the legislative process works, take a look at our handy guide.)

That means that this is a great time to make sure you know who your legislators are, in both the House and the Senate. You can find out online, using the legislature’s Find My Legislator tool, or you can call your county clerk and ask.

We’ll keep you posted about when committee hearings on the bill will take place. We need lots of supporters to fill the hearing rooms!

If you’re not already on our email list and you want to stay informed, please sign up here.

Legislature Convenes Tomorrow

2019 Health Security Act

The legislative session begins at noon tomorrow, and the Health Security Act should be introduced soon. We’ll let you know as soon as we have a bill number.

Other Bills of Interest

The Health Security Act requires a fiscal analysis prior to implementation, and it will take at least three years, assuming the fiscal analysis is positive, to set up the Health Security Plan. What this means is that there is definitely a role for interim measures to protect state residents, expand access to health care, and attempt to control costs.

In addition to the Medicaid buy-in proposal, there will be other important pieces of legislation that deal with select health care issues right now. We are expecting bills to be introduced that:

  • Put in place protections for New Mexicans with preexisting conditions.

  • Prohibit “junk plans”—insurance plans that lack the ten essential benefits required under the Affordable Care Act. (For more on this, see point #2 in our summer blog post.)

  • Address “surprise billing,” which happens when someone who has private insurance goes to a hospital or clinic that is within their plan’s network, but is treated (at much higher cost) by a provider who is out of network.

  • Require state agencies to engage in joint efforts to purchase pharmaceutical drugs and initiate other cost containment approaches.

These interim measures will help New Mexico residents get the care they need while the Health Security Plan is being set up.

Getting a Bill Passed

We’ve put together this handy guide to how the legislature works—both officially and behind the scenes. If this is the first time you’ve been following a bill through the New Mexico legislature, it’s a great introduction to the process. And if it isn’t your first rodeo, please share with someone who doesn’t know as much!

Health Security 2019: Ready to Roll!

Ready to Roll!

New Mexico's Speaker of the House, Rep. Brian Egolf, recently had this to say about the upcoming legislative session:

"I think Health Security Act is top of the list. I think that will certainly be able to pass the House. We're going to have a governor supporting that as well, which will be exciting."

– Rep. Egolf on Retake Our Democracy radio program, 11-17-18

We're certainly excited!

Endorsements from Los Alamos and Albuquerque

We have a new city/county on board! On November 13, the Los Alamos County Council (the City of Los Alamos and Los Alamos County have a joint governing board) voted 5-0 to pass a resolution supporting the Health Security Act. Approval was bipartisan, with 4 Democrats and 1 Republican casting votes in favor of Health Security. Watch the discussion here (Health Security begins at 1:13:45).

The following week, on November 19, the Albuquerque City Council renewed their commitment to the Health Security Act, unanimously passing a resolution in support. The vote was 9-0 and bipartisan, with all 6 Democrats and all 3 Republicans voting in favor of the Health Security Act.

Albuquerque City Council votes in favor of Health Security

Albuquerque City Council votes in favor of Health Security

Health Security supporters after the Albuquerque City Council meeting

Health Security supporters after the Albuquerque City Council meeting

For a full list of cities and counties that have endorsed the Health Security Act, click here

Albuquerque Forum on Faith and Politics

On November 18, the Albuquerque Forum on Faith and Politics hosted a panel on the Health Security Act at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church. Over fifty people attended, and more were able to watch the live stream from their homes. Watch a video of the forum here

New Member Organizations

Along with lots of new individual supporters, we welcome the following organizations to the Campaign:

  • Saint Therese Parish and Catholic School (Albuquerque)

  • Albuquerque Democratic Socialists of America

  • Heat & Frost Insulators & Asbestos Workers LU 76

  • Tri-County Farmers Market (Las Vegas)

  • La Mesa Presbyterian Church (Albuquerque)

For a full list of Campaign member organizations, click here.

Election Results & Health Security

Election Results: Good News for Health Security!

On Tuesday, the people of New Mexico elected a new governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, who has publicly expressed her support for the NM Health Security Act.

And our newly elected lieutenant governor, Howie Morales, has been a chief Senate sponsor of the Health Security Act (along with Sen. Carlos Cisneros) since 2015.

As for our state representatives, at least eight new members of the NM House of Representatives have been elected whom we believe are in favor of Health Security. This group includes a former member of the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign's governing board, Dr. Bill Pratt (district 27)!

All of this means that we have support in high places. Clearly the time has come for Health Security! 

January Coming Up Fast

With the elections over, there are only two more months until the 2019 legislative session begins.

Let's make them count!

What can you do?

  • Talk to friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family members about Health Security. It is so important to spread the word.

  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper stating why you support Health Security. (Click here for thoughts on points to make.)

  • Contact your newly elected (or reelected) representative. Congratulate them and ask them to help with passage of the Health Security Act in 2019. Ask your friends and coworkers to contact their representatives as well!

  • And don't forget your senators! It will take two houses to pass the Health Security Act.

With the elections behind us, now is the time to reach out to your elected representatives to tell them that you support Health Security, and to urge them to support it as well.

So let's keep pushing.  We are sooooo close.

Health Care Is #1 Election Issue

Health Care Is #1 Election Issue

Health care is the top issue of interest to voters, according to a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

Kaiser chart.png

Heading into the midterm elections, 71% of people named health care as a "very important" issue, ahead of the economy and jobs at 64%.

And when asked to pick just one issue, 30%—almost a third of respondents—selected health care. The next highest issue (the economy and jobs) was selected by 21% of respondents. 

A Threat to Repeal, Again

One reason for the widespread worry over health care may be the continued threats by Republicans in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act. 

Just last week, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said that if Republicans maintain their majority in Congress following the midterm elections, they'll try again to do away with the Affordable Care Act

This comes despite the fact that voters are particularly concerned about losing the Affordable Care Act's protections for people with preexisting conditions.

Vote Today; Your Actions Matter!

So what can you do?

  • VOTE in the midterm elections! And remind your friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances in other states to get out and vote too!

    Early voting is already under way in New Mexico—where we're all electing a new governor, and many of us are electing new congressional representation. Election day is November 6.

What else can you do?

Continue to support Health Security so that New Mexico succeeds, no matter what happens on the national level.

  • Donate to the Campaign to help Health Security gain even greater support.

  • Talk to people you know about Health Security (see our helpful talking points).

  • Contact us to present to your professional, action-oriented, or neighborhood group.

We have the opportunity to take control of our health care destiny. So be sure you and everyone you know votes!

Medicaid Buy-In

There's been a lot of buzz recently about the possibility of Medicaid buy-in—allowing New Mexicans who are not currently eligible for Medicaid to buy into this public insurance program.

Medicaid, as you probably know, is a federal program, administered by the states, that provides health care coverage to lower-income Americans. Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid was expanded to include those earning up to 138% of the federally designated poverty level (this amounts to $34,638 for a family of 4). Medicare, in contrast, is a federal program that provides health care coverage to older Americans, beginning at age 65.

Why are people talking about Medicaid buy-in, and what is it? While the number of uninsured New Mexico residents has dropped dramatically since passage of the Affordable Care Act, there are still an estimated 180,000 people without health care coverage in our state. Allowing people to pay into the Medicaid system to gain access to good health coverage would help close that gap. (People would pay a premium, as they do with private insurance, to buy into Medicaid.) 

In 2018, the NM legislature passed a memorial (a "formal expression of legislative desire" that doesn't have the force of law) in favor of studying the feasibility of this proposal. A study would look at affordability, eligibility, benefit package, impact on medical providers (Medicaid reimbursement rates are generally low), and possibilities for federal funding. Clearly, the cost of such a program is critical to its feasibility. 

Our take on Medicaid buy-in: In 2019, there is a great probability that the Health Security Act will pass and become law. (Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham has publicly come out in support of the bill, and the fall elections will hopefully bring in even more pro-Health Security legislators.) But it will take time (approximately three years) for the Health Security Plan to be up and running. Setting up our own homegrown health plan needs to be done carefully, with lots of public input. 

In the meantime, it's important for as many New Mexicans as possible to have health coverage. Therefore, we don't see a conflict between this interim solution and the Health Security Plan. 

What we're working for with the Health Security Act is a systemic solution to the problems we face due to our complex, out-of-control private health insurance system.