Group pushes for universal health care

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

By Casey Peacock
A health care access advocacy group is pushing state lawmakers for a health care system that would cover all New Mexicans.

“It’s becoming very important because of the rising cost of health care,” said Charlotte Roybal, director of Health Action New Mexico, at Monday’s meeting of the Roosevelt County Democratic Women.

Roybal is working closely with legislators and other New Mexico entities to support the passage of expanded Medicaid coverage. Though it will not cover all New Mexicans, it would provide a respite until something can be done to reform the current state health care system.

“I think it’s really important for people to know that to reform the health system will take a long time. Until we get reformed, we’ve got to get kids covered. It’s critical,” Roybal said.

Mathematica Policy Research has been hired to conduct a study that would examine the cost and coverage of three models chosen by the Health Coverage for All New Mexicans committee, which was formed at the request of Gov. Bill Richardson, Roybal said.

The three models that have been chosen are:
• The Health Security Act
• New Mexico Health Choices
• New Mexico Health Coverage Plan

The proposals will be presented in the 2008 Legislature, Roybal said.

Sen. Stuart Ingle, R.-Portales, feels the health care system in New Mexico should be reassessed before more steps are taken.

“I think we need to take a hard look at the way the health care system is being done in New Mexico,” Ingle said.

Ingle said the cost of funding programs is a huge factor in what can be done and what is being done. Decisions concerning health care have to be carefully weighed before anything can be resolved, he said.