Wilson Fights to Protect Healthcare Choice for Thousands of New Mexico Seniors
Congresswoman Heather Wilson today worked in Congress to protect a healthcare program that provides the primary healthcare for 55,000 New Mexico seniors.
At issue is a bill that would move funding from the Medicare Advantage program to a children's health insurance program. Wilson supports the State Children's Health Insurance program (SCHIP), but says increased financing for the program shouldn't come at the expense of the Medicare Advantage program, which is very popular and widely used in New Mexico.
"We shouldn't disrupt the good coverage seniors already have. Ninety-percent of seniors are satisfied with their Medicare Advantage coverage," says Wilson, who has long advocated for this program for New Mexico seniors. "I am a strong supporter of the Medicare program and would not support cuts to Medicare that reduce benefits for our most vulnerable seniors and limits choices for low-income and minority senior populations."
Wilson says that in her district alone there are about 35,000 seniors who rely on Medicare Advantage plans for access to health benefits and lower costs that are not available in traditional Medicare. Wilson says Medicare Advantage enrollees amount to nearly 40% of all seniors on Medicare in her district.
The Albuquerque lawmaker says reducing payments to Medicare Advantage plans will have real repercussions for seniors.
"There are several New Mexico Medicare Advantage plans like Presbyterian Senior Care, Lovelace Senior Plan, Blue Medicare PPO from BlueCross BlueShield, and the Humana Gold Choice plans. These programs will be forced to drop seniors from coverage or will have to pull out of the Medicare market altogether," warns Wilson. "They may have to reduce benefits, or pay providers less causing seniors to lose access to the doctors they have now."
Children's Health Insurance:
Wilson also supports increased funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which is known as "New MexiKids." Wilson led a bipartisan group of centrist Members to urge the budget committee to find the funding necessary to cover all eligible children and pregnant women up to at least 200% of the poverty line and urging the timely reauthorization of the program. The Budget Committee subsequently provided a $50 billion increase for SCHIP over five years. Wilson says she would support an assessment on tobacco products to pay for the expansions of the children's health insurance program, as the Senate bill has done.
"It was my hope that we could have a bipartisan SCHIP reauthorization bill that could gain the support of Members of both parties and show the strong support that exists in Congress for this children's health insurance program," says Wilson. "Instead we have a package that cuts Medicare benefits for seniors to pay for children's health care."
"This is a devil's choice. We shouldn't have to choose between health coverage for seniors or children. I would hope we could scrap this plan and work together to come up with a bipartisan SCHIP reauthorization, as they have done in the Senate, that improves the program and provides coverage to more eligible uninsured children," concluded Wilson today in testimony before the Energy & Commerce Committee, which considered the legislation today.