by Suzanne Potter, Public News Service – NM
September 20, 2016

SANTE FE, N.M. – Health care providers and advocates for children and low-income families are speaking out against any further cuts to Medicaid in advance of the special session on the budget that Governor Susana Martinez is expected to convene shortly. Legislators are facing a projected shortfall of about $325 million.

But Abuko Estrada, staff attorney with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty said the feds give New Mexico $4 for every $1 we invest in Medicaid. So last year’s Medicaid cuts were greatly magnified, and devastating.

“The state is losing $265 million just in federal funds and then state funding was around $67 million short,” he said “That’s over $330 million lost to the health-care system and economy. So it’s nearly a million dollars a day for fiscal year 2017 that’s being lost.”

Estrada added that since the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2014, 300,000 New Mexicans gained medical coverage. The expansion helped add 4,800 jobs in health care and social assistance and generates hundreds of millions in direct revenue to the state.

Nurse Lorie MacIver BSN, RNC, district president for the Local 1199, which includes the NUHHCE, AFSCME and AFL-CIO unions, says the cuts to doctor reimbursements would exacerbate the current shortage of physicians and hurt patients directly.

“To simply just slash and burn is unacceptable,” she said. “It means fewer nurses at the bedside, it means fewer clinics are open, it means there are fewer appointment times. Why would you cut services to the most vulnerable when there are other options?”

Bill Jordan, senior policy adviser and government relations officer for New Mexico Voices for Children, says the state has been on a tax-cutting frenzy over the past few years, and thinks lawmakers ought to raise revenue by rescinding a few of those breaks.

“We’ve literally given away hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts in order to try to generate jobs,” he said. “That hasn’t really happened. And now that oil and gas prices are down, we find ourselves short a lot of money.”

Other ideas for raising revenue without hurting the everyday taxpayer include a new fee on hospitals and increased taxes on the wealthy.

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