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Nuts and bolts of health reform, so far

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By Sherry Robinson

Meeting organizers explained that they didn’t intend to debate health care reform.

“We’re here to discover how New Mexico can get the maximum benefit,” said Dick Mason, of Health Action New Mexico, a nonprofit, consumer advocacy group.

Amen to that, I thought. That declaration and the meeting venue – a church sanctuary – were effective. No shouting, no posturing. A large, diverse, polite crowd really did want to learn how the new law was going to work. I wanted to know how it would affect New Mexico.

According to a recent poll, only 28 percent of Americans understand the reform law, which means expectations may be unrealistically high or low. “We believe the more people understand, the better able they will be to take advantage of its benefits,” Mason said.

New Mexico has a larger stake than most states, with a far greater percentage of uninsured people and higher premiums because the insured ultimately pay for the uninsured. The reform will insure 32 million of the nation’s 47 million uninsured; in New Mexico, that’s 315,000 of 434,000 uninsured. Illegal aliens will not be covered.


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