Commentary: New Mexico Together for Healthcare sounded an alarm about the number of families that would lose coverage in New Mexico as the U.S. House Oversight Committee on Wednesday heard testimony on the potential impact of the ACA being overturned. The Congressional committee meeting comes just one day after oral arguments before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas v. United States, a court case seeking to invalidate the ACA.
“The danger is real,” said Abuko D. Estrada, supervising attorney for Healthcare at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, a member of New Mexico Together for Healthcare. “Overturning the ACA would eliminate Medicaid expansion, prevent adult children from staying on their parents’ insurance and shutdown the exchanges—kicking over a quarter-of-a-million New Mexicans off their insurance and leaving them on their own to find healthcare. New Mexico families have benefited from the ACA and need it to stay in place to ensure that they have continued access to the care that they need.”
Lan Sena, an Albuquerque woman who has been battling cancer and struggling to pay her healthcare bills, had hoped to testify at Wednesday’s hearing in Washington, D.C. Due to a last-minute change, she did not testify, but says that her story shows just how important the ACA is—and how devastating overturning it would be.
“My life depends on the ACA, as does my father’s, and as do the millions of Americans who rely on it for coverage and protections,” said Sena, who delayed her 14th cycle of chemotherapy in anticipation of participating in Wednesday’s Congressional hearing. “My family has already seen the death of a loved one because we couldn't afford his care. Don't make my life or my father's be included.”
Both Sena and her father have been battling cancer for several years and rely on the ACA to access life-saving treatment. Her grandfather, however, died when Sena was a child because he was unable to afford the care he needed at the time.
“My family’s story is not unique,” Sena said. “Too many New Mexicans are in the same place—in need of life-saving healthcare but without the means to pay the bills. The ACA is a lifeline for us. Overturning the ACA would literally be a death sentence for patients like me.”
NMT4HC leaders cited specific impacts overturning the ACA would have on New Mexico:
- Medicaid expansion would be eliminated--meaning more than 250,000 adults with low-incomes in New Mexico would lose their coverage.
- Tax credits that help people buy private insurance would be eliminated, jeopardizing coverage for more than 40,000 New Mexicans.
- Repeal would destabilize the healthcare system for providers, such as hospitals, because they would incur greater uncompensated care costs due to more uninsured people.
- New Mexico’s economy would be threatened—Medicaid expansion has provided financial security for more than 250,000 adults and has brought in federal funding that directly supports healthcare jobs and the healthcare sector overall.
- Young adults would no longer be able to stay on their parents’ health plan until age 26.
- There will be significant reductions in funding to help train, recruit and maintain our healthcare workforce.
- Significant reductions in funding for community health centers.
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 Mexico, New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, Health Action New Mexico and United States of Care. The campaign’s website is http://nmtogether4health.org/ Follow the campaign on Facebook @NMTogether4Healthcare and Twitter @NMT4HC.