New Mexicans Anxious About Healthcare Bill, Despite Vote Delay

By: July 17, 2017 12:45 pmViews: 16

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell planned to begin debate on the Obamacare replacement bill this week and pass it using fast-track procedures. That was before Sen. John McCain, a key Republican vote, said he’d be in his home state of Arizona, recovering from surgery. But many in New Mexico will not have access to the same level of medical coverage as McCain if Obamacare is dismantled.

Abuko Estrada, staff attorney with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, said he thinks Congress should go back to the drawing board and revise the current bill, using Obamacare as a starting point.

“I don’t think you want to throw the baby out with the bath water,” Estrada said. “Instead, what Congress needs to do is focus on working to improve the law and ensure that quality, affordable health care is available for everyone, and not just the privileged few.”

The delayed vote in the Senate could give critics more time to mobilize opposition to the legislation. The list of opponents includes consumer groups, patient advocates and organizations representing doctors, hospitals and some insurance companies.

The Congressional Budget Office’s new score for the revised bill will be released Monday. Estrada said he doesn’t expect much change from the previous GOP proposal – which, for New Mexico, would mean ripping away health care for hundreds of thousands of low- and middle-income residents.

“A lot of that’s going to be the result from slashing funding to Medicaid which helps provide coverage to over 40 percent of our state,” he said.

Polls show the legislation to replace Obamacare remains highly unpopular and the delayed vote this week has many wondering if Senate leaders will be forced to rethink their long-held goal to repeal and replace.

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