Truly Affordable Health Care for New Mexicans

  • The state of New Mexico spent $1.17 billion on Medicaid in FY17, to which $4.45 billion in matching federal funds were added. Medicaid now covers 854,000 New Mexicans, and another 45,000 are covered by Affordable Care Act (federally subsidized) health care insurance. Fewer than 9% of New Mexicans now have no health insurance, compared to more than 20% six years ago. This is a good investment for New Mexico, not just for people’s well-being and productivity, but because health care is much more efficient when insured people get routine and preventive care at a doctor’s office or health clinic and not in hospital emergency rooms.
  • Affordable health care is a national problem that will not fix itself. The United States spends 18% of its gross domestic product (GDP) for health care (over $9,000 per person), and still has 28 million people without insurance. Many European countries spend 9 to 12% of their GDP ($4000 to $6000 per person) and cover nearly everyone with equal or better care than in the US. We need to do what we can in New Mexico to make basic health care available and affordable to all.
  • There are two proposals in the State Legislature that I support. Representatives Debbie Armstrong and Nathan Small’s HM9 and Senator Ortiz y Pino’s SM3, both passed in 2018, have proposed to study allowing New Mexicans to "buy in" to the Medicaid managed care programs by paying what Medicaid costs (in FY17, averaging $301 to $468 per month). This would provide them the option of good care at a competitive or lower cost than available on the Affordable Care Act exchanges, near to that $4000-$6000 per year that European countries spend per person. Second, the Health Security Act (2017 session HB575/HB101/SB172) is an effort to investigate the possibility of a statewide health insurance plan for all New Mexicans.
  • Providing health care in a truly affordable way is a complex subject I am researching with advisors in health care. The Medicaid "buy-in" proposals may be a significant step forward, but we will have to assure that provider reimbursements are high enough to keep doctors and hospitals in business. European countries cover people at a significantly lower cost than we do, with a variety of public and private regulated systems. We should be able to look at these systems and implement their best practices. My skills as an applied physicist, where we often analyze large amounts of data but have a healthy skepticism for models which may not correspond to reality, should prove useful in this work.