Universal health care proponents are upset that providing taxpayer funded health care for everyone seems to be taking a backseat while legislators begin to struggle with the half a billion dollar budget shortfall:
“There is tremendous interest in both the advocacy and constituent communities to focus on health care reform during the upcoming session,” said Roxanne Spruce Bly, executive director of Health Action New Mexico, in an interview with the Independent. “For many voters, health care was a top priority and a key reason why they supported change at both the national and state level.”
Indeed, achieving universal health care was not only a major plank during the Democratic presidential primary, it was also a major issue in 2008 during the short legislative session and the special session.
Still, the results were minimal. There has been no movement on bills that would ensure New Mexico’s 400,000 uninsured people gain access to health care, or that would contain the rapidly increasing costs.
“The time to act is now,” Bly said. “In 2006, New Mexico commissioned a study which showed that if we continued to do nothing, the cost of our health care system will increase from $6 billion to $8 billion by 2011.
Ok, let’s state the obvious. The time to act is NOT now. Forget the fact that we are facing a budget crisis this year that in all likelihood will be worse next year. Instead, consider that achieving universal health care was a major plank during the Democratic presidential primary. Well, the Democrats won on a federal level and New Mexico’s state lawmakers would be wise to take a wait and see attitude until it is clear how those national Democrats plan on delivering on their promises.
Obviously, I don’t want to see a universally mandated and taxpayer funded health care system. But, the Democrats now control the House, the Senate and the Presidency. So, I don’t really have much say in the issue.
As to the “New Mexico commissioned a study which showed that if we continued to do nothing, the cost of our health care system will increase from $6 billion to $8 billion by 2011.” I’m sorry, but if state government takes on the task of managing all aspects of the health care system, I can practically guarantee that we will see even more than a $2 billion increase over the next two years.
All you need to do is look at the state’s latest budgetary fiasco regarding the hiring freeze (subscription):
After Gov. Bill Richardson announced a state government hiring freeze, his administration put 416 people on the payroll before it took effect.
Members of the Legislative Finance Committee, confronted with a projected state budget shortfall of about $454 million, weren’t happy with the news Wednesday.
“I think it was disingenuous,” said Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort, R-Sandia Park.
To call adding $1 million to a state payroll budget while supposedly instituting a hiring freeze “disingenuous” is putting it nicely. I would call it “criminal.” How can anyone believe that putting these folks in charge of the health care system is going to reduce costs. They can’t even reduce costs when they are implementing cost cutting measures.