New Mexico added more than 10,000 healthcare jobs since the passage of Obamacare in December, 2009. As a new Republican majority maneuvers to fast-track the reckless repeal of that law without any plan for replacement, many of those workers and the families who depend on them are growing worried about the future of their families as well as their patients.
The State of the Workforce
In the State’s annual “State of the Workforce: 2016” report, New Mexico’s Department of Workforce Solutions, which tracks New Mexico’s workforce, reports that, “the health care and social assistance industry made up the largest share of the New Mexico workforce (16.3 percent), and this industry added 9,746 jobs between 2009 and 2014.”
“New Mexico’s Star Occupations—those that are projected to grow quickly, provide substantial job openings, and pay higher wages—include 11 education or health care-related occupations and six management or computer and mathematical occupations (out of 28 total Star Occupations. The occupations on the list span nearly every required education level, although 22 require more than a high school diploma or equivalent certificate.
After more than a year of debate, Obamacare passed Congress in 2009 and healthcare companies began ramping up to prepare for the influx of new patients and more comprehensive care for those already covered.
And in spite of job losses statewide in nearly every other sector, health care jobs pay above average and are growing at a rapid pace. “The health care sector has created a large number of new jobs, many related to the recent Medicaid expansion [a provision of Obamacare],” Workforce Solutions reports.
Since the law took effect, at least 178,100 previously uninsured New Mexicans obtained insurance and began receiving care (including almost 82,000 patients in New Mexico’s second Congressional district where their Representative, Steve Pearce, is leading the charge to repeal without a plan).
With Obamacare, Health Care expected to lead New Mexico job growth over next 5 years
According to the same state report issued just last year, health care jobs are expected to add more than 20,000 new jobs to the state over the next five years.
Repeal without a plan
This week, New Mexico’s two United States Senators voted against a plan to begin the Obamacare repeal process.
Sen. Tom Udall:
In a statement issued last week, Udall echoed concerns about the health care workforce. “While our state’s overall economy has lagged, the ACA has been an economic driver for New Mexico. Seven of the top 10 fastest-growing job categories in the state are in the health care field, and overall, one in five jobs is related to health care. For those concrete, measurable reasons, I strongly believe that Washington Republicans’ plan to repeal the ACA would be a public health, economic and jobs disaster. Repeal threatens to eliminate health care access for tens of thousands of New Mexicans and cost our state $2.2 billion in lost funding annually by 2019.”
Sen. Martin Heinrich:
“The Affordable Care Act has enabled New Mexicans to access quality, affordable health care for the first time in their lives. Yet Republicans want to strip millions of Americans of their health care without a plan in place. This will quickly cause chaos, millions will become uninsured and many more will lose key benefits like free preventative care. Health care providers, especially rural hospitals in our state, could be forced to shut their doors or turn away sick Americans. Health care costs for all Americans will skyrocket at the same time Republicans are looking for billionaires to get a tax break. New Mexicans rely on Affordable Care Act coverage for their prescriptions, preventive care, including birth control, cancer screenings and vaccines, and many other important health benefits. Simply put, lives are at stake.”
Congressional members Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham have been equally vocal in their opposition. The Republican’s repeal plan, however, started in the Senate. It is expected to reach the House in the coming weeks.
Only Steve Pearce, the state’s lone Republican and Tea Party Congressman, support a full repeal without a plan.
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