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Confirmation of Judge Barrett could lead to over 300,000 New Mexicans losing health coverage

Oct 15, 2020

Credit University of Notre Dame

Commentary: The confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court could lead to over 280,000 New Mexicans losing Medicaid and over 30,000 losing health insurance through the marketplace. At stake is access to quality, affordable health coverage for millions of people across the country and New Mexico if the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act, says the coalition NM Together for Healthcare.

“Everyone needs and deserves access to quality and affordable health coverage,” said Adriann Barboa, New Mexico Policy Director at Forward Together. “The Affordable Care Act expanded coverage to hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans and significantly helped reduce coverage gaps nationwide for communities of color. If the ACA is repealed, racial and geographical disparities in accessing healthcare will devastate communities of color and families living in our rural areas.”

The Supreme Court will be making monumental decisions about healthcare soon when it deliberates over the lawsuit California v. Texas that challenges key provisions of the ACA. The Trump administration has submitted a brief to the Court asking for the entire Affordable Care Act to be overturned, continuing its campaign to repeal the law.

If the challenge prevails, a host of ACA provisions could be eliminated, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions, subsidies to make individual health insurance more affordable, expanded eligibility for Medicaid, among others.

Judge Barrett has a long history of anti-ACA legal stances, including her openness to the argument that the ACA is unconstitutional. If confirmed, she could be seated in time to participate in oral arguments in the California v. Texas lawsuit exactly one week after the election. 

“In the middle of a pandemic that has caused over 200,000 deaths and millions of people to lose their jobs, healthcare coverage is absolutely vital,” said Nicolas Cordova, an attorney at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. “The stakes could not be higher. If the ACA is struck down, the impact would be devastating across the country and particularly in New Mexico.” 

If the ACA is repealed, New Mexico would also lose more than $1.5 billion in federal funding for the state’s healthcare system, risking thousands of jobs and massive service cuts at hospitals and medical clinics. 

430,000 New Mexicans on Medicare would also see the return of the dreaded donut hole and struggle to pay for their medications. Other ACA protections that could be lost include no cost coverage for annual physical exams and preventive services like screenings for diabetes or cancer and other procedures. 

A Senate Judiciary Committee introduced and passed a motion today setting October 22 as the date the committee will vote on the nomination. The Senate’s final confirmation vote will likely take place the week of October 26.

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NM Together for Healthcare is a statewide, multiracial coalition of families and community organizations working together to strengthen healthcare access in New Mexico, supported by Strong Families New MexicoNew Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, and Health Action New Mexico. Follow the campaign on Facebook @NMTogether4Healthcare and Twitter @NMT4HC.