The Supreme Court ruling on “Obamacare” and what it means for New Mexico UPDATE: Susana says, “We will do what we need to do”
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The reports about the demise of “Obamacare” were premature.
On Thursday morning (June 28), the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was constitutional, with Chief Justice John Roberts casting the deciding vote, arguing the provision called the individual mandate — requiring citizens to pay into the system whether they want to or not — was a tax and did not violate the Constitution.
After weeks of speculation that the act would be struck down, reaction was swift and predictable in political circles, with Democrats telling critics “I told you so” and Republicans decrying what they see as an unprecedented intrusion by the federal government.
“Today’s Supreme Court decision sets the stakes for the November election,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. “Now, the only way to save the country from ObamaCare’s budget-busting government takeover of health care is to elect a new president” while President Obama said, “Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it.”
What the decision mean for New Mexico?
Earlier this week the Human Services Department announced that a state health insurance exchange is being formed regardless of Thursday’s Supreme Court decision.
“Even if the law falls, the governor [Republican Susana Martinez] would like to see a health care exchange, but have it be unique, by New Mexicans, for New Mexicans,” a spokesman for the Human Services Department told the Santa Fe New Mexican on Tuesday. A 12-member task force will tackle creating the exchange.
“I’m gratified that by and large the entire bill was upheld,” state Sen. Dede Feldman (D-Albuquerque) told Capitol Report New Mexico by phone Thursday morning. Feldman has been one of the biggest defenders of the president’s bill that passed in 2010 with just one Republican on Capitol Hill voting for it.
“Now it’s time for the [Martinez] administration to stop horsing around and implement the law of the land,” Sen. Feldman said, saying the state has not applied for “hundred and hundreds of grants” totalling in the millions of dollars. “The administration has been waiting to see what the court said … now it’s time to implement the bill.”
We’re attempting to get a a comment from Gov. Martinez about the ruling and will post it as soon as possible.
Update: Gov. Martinez talked to reporters this afternoon about the ruling and seemed to take a wait and see attitude about going forward while re-emphasizing her committment to the state’s Medicaid system and changes she feels are necessary to keep it sustainable. Here’s a 2-minute and 36-second excerpt, starting with her response to Feldman’s charge that her administration is “horsing around”:
Thursday’s ruling could have profound, long-term consequences for the state. For example, New Mexico’s population of people on Medicaid is much larger than most states and nearly one-quarter of New Mexicans don’t have health insurance.
The high court touched on the health care act’s provisions concerning expanding Medicaid in its ruling, saying a portion of the act penalizing individual states for not expanding Medicaid was too severe but saying despite that, the act in general passed Constitutional muster.
How might that affect New Mexico?
“I’m not clear on that,” Feldman said. That’s up to the administration of the state … it’s too soon to predict what’s going to happen.”
Posted under Capitol Report.
Tags: Capitol Report New Mexico, Dede Feldman, Human Services Department, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Santa Fe New Mexican, Susana Martinez, US Supreme Court