Obamacare Repeal Bill 'Still Needs Some Work,' Says New Mexico's GOP Governor

by | September 22, 2017

By Dan Boyd

Gov. Susana Martinez has waded into the debate on the latest Republican-backed Obamacare repeal plan -- and she's not sold on the bill's merits.

"While it's encouraging that Congress is working on a healthcare solution, the governor is concerned this bill could hurt New Mexico and still needs some work," Martinez spokesman Joseph Cueto told the Journal.

A bill written by GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana is the latest effort to undo Obamacare, and could reportedly be voted on by the U.S. Senate next week.

Among other provisions, the Graham-Cassidy bill would convert federal health insurance funding into block grants for states and do away with coverage mandates.

Several previous GOP-backed attempts to repeal Obamacare have stalled due to Republican defections and staunch Democratic opposition.

While Martinez has roundly criticized Obamacare in recent statements, the governor has taken a cautious approach to the federal health care debate surrounding the law's fate.

That's likely because any loss of federal dollars -- the federal government currently pays 95 percent of the cost of those receiving benefits under Medicaid expansion -- could hit New Mexico particularly hard.

Martinez, a two-term Republican, decided in 2013 to accept federal funding to expand New Mexico's Medicaid rolls. More than 40 percent of the state's population -- or about 900,000 low-income adults, children and disabled individuals -- is currently covered by the joint federal-state health care program.

In the statement released today, the Governor's Office said New Mexicans deserve a health care system that works.

"She believes we need a bipartisan approach that focuses on the insurance market to make health care affordable," Cueto said.

Meanwhile, Martinez's stance on the Graham-Cassidy bill also aligns her -- at least for now -- with the state's two Democratic U.S. senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich.

(c)2017 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.)