By BILLY HUNTSMAN
Las Cruces Bulletin
“Stop playing politics with health,” said Lucas Herndon, communications manager for ProgressNow New Mexico, one of the organizations that hosted the national Save My Care press conference in Las Cruces on Feb. 15.
ProgressNow, along with other organizations such as Health Action New Mexico, the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, AARP, hosted the conference in order to “send a clear message to Republican lawmakers in Washington, (D.C.).”
“Right now Congressional Republicans are rushing to repeal the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a., Obamacare), a move that will devastate families across our state and across the nation,” Herndon said.
Las Cruces City Councilor for District 1 Kasandra Gandara attended and spoke at the conference.
“As a former social worker, I have seen firsthand what the ACA has done for many of my constituents,” Gandara said.
In her former career, Gandara said, she worked with children who had chronic illnesses, such as asthma, diabetes and various heart conditions.
“Those can be very debilitating conditions, very costly in terms of medication and care, and without the ACA, these children and families wouldn’t get the care that they need,” she said.
Rev. Robinson Owens of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Alamogordo also spoke in favor of the ACA, which currently insures an estimated 260,000 to 300,000 New Mexicans and a total of about 30 million Americans.
“The ACA was designed to help those people who needed help—children, women, those with pre-existing conditions,” Owens said.
Instead of repealing the ACA, Owens said the act should be repaired, as it isn’t perfect but is better than nothing.
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D – N.M.) had a representative from his office attend the conference and read a letter.
“While much of the rest of the state’s economy is stagnant, the health care field has become an economic driver, accounting for seven of the top 10 fastest-growing-job categories,” the letter said, attributing the field’s growth to the ACA.
Udall also said the act was not perfect, but that it should not be repealed without having a suitable replacement lined up.
In addition to the about 300,000 New Mexicans who are directly insured through the ACA, Udall said, another 735,000 New Mexicans who receive insurance through their employers will lose preventative medicine coverage with the ACA’s repeal.
“The human cost alone should convince us that ACA repeal with no replacement makes no sense,” Udall’s letter said.
A representative from U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D – N.M.) also read a letter from the senator.
“I will continue to advocate for our most vulnerable and will do everything I can to seek pragmatic policy solutions that reduce health care costs and improve health providers deliver care,” Heinrich said.