Rep. Steve Pearce two-steps to a different beat on healthcare, Trump

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By Sherry Robinson

Political pundits are talking lately about a possible run for governor by Congressman Steve Pearce. If that’s true, he has a strange way of endearing himself to New Mexico voters.
Pearce was one of the Republicans to sign the American Healthcare Act. And while other Rs look for cover as the president’s controversies deepen, Pearce goes out on a limb to defend him.
The current version of the House healthcare bill isn’t likely to survive the Senate makeover, but it’s instructive to look at what Pearce thinks is appropriate for us.
The AHCA would repeal Obamacare, phase out increased federal funding for low-income people who got coverage through the 2014 Medicaid expansion. It would instead make Medicaid a cheaper block grant program. Millions of people would lose their coverage in the next ten years.
In New Mexico that translates to more than 265,000 people of the 900,000 currently on Medicaid, according to an analysis by economist Kelly O’Donnell, of UNM’s Robert Wood Johnson Center for Health Policy. It would also affect the children, seniors and disabled people who traditionally qualified. New Mexico would have to come up with an additional $427 million a year or reduce coverage.
Because healthcare has been a growth sector in the state’s economy, the economic impacts would be huge. New Mexico could lose $11.4 billion in federal revenue, 31,800 jobs, and $759 million in state revenues by 2026, according to the analysis.
O’Donnell concludes the measure would “drastically increase both the number of uninsured New Mexicans and the burden of uncompensated care borne by the state’s healthcare providers.”
We’d be back where we started before Obamacare, in other words.
The GOP bill also includes an $883 billion tax cut, with $274 billion going to the richest 2 percent, and it allows states to decide if insurers can deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. These two pieces of the bill have been fodder for internet and town hall rants.
Pearce faced hundreds of angry constituents in a March town hall in Las Cruces. Many worried about the repeal of Obamacare. Pearce, according to KRWG, suggested that some people would have to wait until age 65 when they could get Medicare coverage. The crowd chanted, “Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!”
Pearce insists this is a better bill than the earlier version that he didn’t support and will deliver lower rates. He told the Albuquerque Journal that essential health benefits, such as vaccines and maternity care, were mandated under Obamacare, but under AHCA states would decide essential health benefits.
Pearce, the former businessman, doesn’t get that healthcare costs are a bigger hit on businesses than taxes, which is why Warren Buffett says “medical costs are the tapeworm of American economic competitiveness.” Chuck Collins, of the Institute for Policy Studies, notes that U. S. firms compete against countries whose healthcare systems reduce those costs for companies. Healthcare costs here consume 17 percent of the economy but far less in Germany, Japan, Britain and China.
The congressman has also protested the storm of controversy related to the president and Russia as a “total assault” by Democrats and the media, forgetting that prominent members of his own party also have problems with apparent Russian meddling in our election and suspected influence in the White House.
Pearce complained that “we’re going to keep finding stuff until we find something that will get to the level we want it to.”
Investigators investigate. They may or may not find anything. Investigations in the Clinton era turned up a blue dress but not the corruption they were searching for. This time we’re talking about national security. Shouldn’t we know, one way or another, if there’s fire behind that smoke?
Rep. Pearce needs to visit his district more often – all of it.