News Column

New Mexicans React to Health Care Ruling

June 29, 2012

Kate Nash

New Mexicans

New Mexicans had mixed reactions Thursday to the U.S. Supreme Court decision let the majority of a health care reform act stay in place.

Republicans here blasted the court's decision and pledged to work to overturn it while Democrats issued statements of support for the ruling, which many consider among the court's most important work in years.

"Today's Supreme Court decision ups the stakes for the future of our country," Republican Party of New Mexico chairman Monty Newman said in a statement.

"It is clearly a choice between two futures. Now, the only way to save the country from the White House's government takeover of health care is to elect a new president," he said. "ObamaCare has damaged our economy and taken decision-making power out of the hands of families. That is unacceptable."

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall in a statement applauded the decision and said everyone working on the issue knew the decision wouldn't be easy.

"The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act is the best possible outcome for the American people. Today, quality, affordable health care is a major step closer to becoming a reality for millions of Americans who live one accident or diagnosis away from losing everything. For these families, health care is an economic matter with the very real consequences of life, death and bankruptcy," the Democrat said.

New Mexico, with one of the nation's highest rate of uninsured residents, stands to see big changes from the ruling in the number of people who will be covered by Medicaid. That means health care companies and the state must now gear up for the increase in patients seeking care. Roughly a quarter of the state's residents are uninsured.

The ruling means nearly everyone in the country must buy health insurance or be fined. It also requires states to amplify Medicaid coverage, although The New York Times reported that the "ruling gives states some flexibility not to expand their Medicaid programs, without paying the same financial penalties that the law called for." It keeps provisions including those allowing young adults up to age 26 to stay on their parents' insurance plan and those requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions. Companies also can't deny or limit coverage for people under 19 with pre-existing conditions.

Other New Mexicans planned a press conference in Albuquerque this afternoon with reaction to the decision.

Steve O'Dell, senior vice president at Molina Healthcare said the company is prepared to busy for the foreseeable future.

Molina Healthcare of New Mexico has 89,000 members and expects untold more.

With the upholding of the act, O'Dell said the company is looking at "hyper growth." Already, the growth for the company and the number of people it serves is "substantial," he said.

The company is in the process of expanding into five new states, he said. It in February opened a clinic in Santa Fe, has one underway and another one planned in Albuquerque, as well as a separate clinic lined up in Las Cruces.

"With that additional volume of people coming in, there are going to be substantial access issues," he said.



Source: (c)2012 The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, N.M.)


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