Q&A about the Health Security Act

 

 

On June 10th, 2017, DSA Santa Fe hosted a workshop on the Health Security Act, a bill that would establish universal health coverage in New Mexico.

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Three women from the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign—Dana Millen (Education & Outreach Coordinator), Josette Haddad (Communications Coordinator), & Mary Feldblum (Executive Director)—lead us through the bill, answered our questions, and noted our feedback.

Mary Feldblum and others have been working on this bill since 1992, in response to the healthcare crisis in the early 90’s. The Health Security Plan would provide old-fashioned health insurance: everyone shares the risk, everyone pays a premium. It wouldn’t cover active-duty or retired military members or federal retirees, and tribes (as dependent sovereign nations) can opt to join-in. The folks organizing for the Health Security Act call this bill a cooperative model versus a single-payer model. They mention Saskatchewan, which was the poorest province in Canada; they passed their healthcare reforms first, then that model spread to the rest of Canada. They argue that state-by-state reform is the path to single-payer. This is a people’s plan—it’s our plan. The Health Security Plan would cover almost everyone, all in the plan together sharing the risk. And the Health Security Plan would be run by an independent commission, not the state government.

Who would be covered by the Health Security Plan?

Almost all New Mexicans would be covered, regardless of health status, employment status, and age. Federal retirees, active-duty and retired military, and TRICARE recipients would continue to receive their care, and tribes (as dependent sovereign nations) could opt-in to the plan.

What coverage would be provided?

Benefits as comprehensive as those offered to state employees, and maybe more comprehensive, including extensive preventative care. Dental coverage wouldn’t be provided at first, but hopefully would be phased in. You could stay with your doctor; there would be no more networks. You could also see doctors out-of-state.

How much would my Health Security Plan coverage cost?

Premiums would be sliding-scale—with caps—based on income. Employer contributions would also have caps. The Health Security Plan might have copayments, but only if copayments help keep costs down for everyone. Copayments will not be charged for preventative services.

How would the Health Security Plan keep down medical costs?

The Health Security Plan would buy drugs and medical equipment in bulk. After six years of the plan operating, the commission would limit administrative costs to 5% of the annual budget for the Health Security Plan.

What would happen to medical records?

All records would be centralized and be accessible to providers throughout the state.

What kind of body organizes and runs the Health Plan?

A Health Care Commission, which is a geographically representative commission, not a state-run body. Its budget and meetings would be open to the public.

How is the Health Care Commission chosen?

A nominating committee would be chosen by bipartisan legislative leaders from New Mexico’s government, and there are strict limits which prevent members of the nominating committee from representing health insurance companies. The Health Care Commission would be composed of a balanced number of people representing consumers, employers, and health care providers and facilities—fairly sourced from public education districts across the state in order to make sure that the commission is geographically fair. Most importantly, all members of the nominating committee and the Health Care Commission must be eligible for or enrolled in the Health Security Plan.

What would happen first after the bill is passed?

A study would be done to understand whether or not the Plan would be affordable for the state. If for any reason the Health Security Plan was projected to be unaffordable, the bill would lapse out of law.

How can I help pass this bill?

Talk to everyone you know about it. The biggest challenge to passing the Health Security Act is a lack of awareness about the bill and the campaign to pass it. For more info, go to nmhealthsecurity.org.

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