In 2013, the Affordable Care Act allowed states to expand Medicaid benefits to adults earning 138 percent of the federal poverty level, and New Mexico agreed to participate. Before the expansion, 560,000 New Mexicans were enrolled in Medicaid. That number has jumped to over 822,000 as of August 2015, and almost 100,000 more New Mexicans are expected to enroll in Medicaid from now to mid-2017.
State Medicaid costs will only increase in the coming years, as the federal government had initially funded the expansion cost. Starting in 2017, New Mexico will be expected to pick up 5 percent, and 10 percent by 2020.
“I think having more than 1 out of 3 New Mexicans having their health care being covered by Medicaid is going to be a budget-buster,” said Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho. “I see this as not sustainable – we need to be very careful.”
Santa Fe in Deep Water: The Santa Fe City Council has been presented with some news that is frustrating to all: without severe budget cuts or tax increases, they may have to resume diverting money from the Water Division in order to help pay for day-to-day operations. This was a controversial issue this past summer, as the city has been using money from a surplus that has built up in the Water Division over the past few years to avoid cutting costs somewhere else. The mayor and City Council vowed to discontinue the practice, but now Finance Director Oscar Rodriquez is saying that this is not sustainable.
Who We Elect Matters: Both of these recent headlines show how repercussions from a choice may not come for many years – but eventually they do come. Santa Fe’s budget found quick fixes to growing costs, instead of working to balance the budget from the get go. Now, taxpayers will be paying for it in one way or the other, unless cuts are made.
Is there an answer to the upcoming Medicare costs? That remains unseen, but voters are reminded to pay attention and hold elected officials accountable for their actions in future elections.
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