Politics: Enter at your own risk

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 22, 2017) - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) is rejecting the health care proposal released today by Senate Republicans. For weeks, a small group of Senate Republicans worked behind closed doors without bipartisan input to draft the bill based on the health care bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives.

"This train wreck of a health care bill seems to be everything we feared it would be. It looks an awful lot like the disastrous health care bill that passed in the House, which we know would leave average New Mexico families paying thousands of dollars more for less health coverage, destroy the Medicaid program as it currently exists, and throw our entire health care system into chaos. I am stunned that President Trump and Senate Republicans seem determined to rush through such a massive piece of legislation that was negotiated in secret with zero public input or hearings," said Senator Heinrich. "I urge President Trump and Republicans to listen to the millions of Americans who are saying loud and clear that it's time to turn the page on this reckless path so we can finally get to work on actually fixing those things in the current health care system that need work. I will do everything I can to oppose this appalling legislation and fight to keep quality health care accessible and affordable for all New Mexicans."

Earlier this week, Senator Heinrich spoke on the Senate floor about the devastating consequences that TrumpCare would have in New Mexico, particularly in rural communities and for women, low-income families, children, and people with pre-existing conditions. He shared stories from New Mexicans who stand to lose if Republicans are successful at passing their health care bill.

Senator Heinrich, who is the Ranking Member of the Joint Economic Committee, also participated in a forum yesterday entitled, "America Speaks Out: How the Republican Health Care Bill Would Devastate Rural America." During his opening statement, Senator Heinrich emphasized the impact the Republican health care bill will have on rural hospitals. He highlighted some of the findings in a new Joint Economic Committee Democrats report, "TrumpCare Threatens Rural Hospitals." The report describes how the health care sector employs 17 percent of all workers in rural counties. In more than 40 percent of rural counties in the U.S., hospitals account for more than 10 percent of the county's total employment. In addition, Senator Heinrich pointed to a new list of "Ten Ways Congress Could Support Rural Americans" offering solutions on how Congress can actually help support rural America.

Senator Heinrich cosponsored Democratic legislation called the "No Hearing, No Vote Act" that would require the Senate to hold hearings before a final vote could be held on any bill - like TrumpCare - that is being fast-tracked using a process called budget reconciliation.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ranking Member of the Joint Economic Committee, joined U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and other Senate Democrats to hold a forum entitled, "America Speaks Out: How the Republican Health Care Bill Would Devastate Rural America." At the event, rural health care providers and other experts outlined how the Republicans' health care bill moving through Congress leaves the 46 million Americans living in rural America behind and has a disproportionate impact on their ability to access quality, affordable health care.

During his opening statement, Senator Heinrich emphasized the impact the Republican health care bill will have on rural hospitals. Earlier today, the Joint Economic Committee Democrats released a report, "TrumpCare Threatens Rural Hospitals." The report describes how the health care sector employs 17 percent of all workers in rural counties. In more than 40 percent of rural counties in the U.S., hospitals account for more than 10 percent of the county's total employment. In addition, the Joint Economic Committee Democrats released "Ten Ways Congress Could Support Rural Americans" offering solutions on how Congress can actually help support rural America.

Senator Heinrich's opening remarks from the forum as prepared for delivery are below.

Thank you, Senator Stabenow, for calling us together today to discuss the important issue of how the Republican health care bill will impact rural communities.

This meeting is critically important:

Number One: Because far too often the needs of rural communities are overlooked.

And Number Two: Because our Republican colleagues have failed to hold even one hearing or one mark-up on their bill.

In fact, beyond a small, secret group of Republicans, no other senators have been allowed to see the bill.

So this gathering is one of the few times we've had to focus on how the Republican bill will impact hardworking Americans.

And it's essential that we understand how the Republican bill could impact rural communities like the ones in my home state of New Mexico and around the nation.

While I have many concerns about TrumpCare, I'd like to focus my remarks on three that are among the most devastating for rural communities.

First, as rural America continues its battle against the opioid epidemic, we know that Medicaid is the most important and most impactful tool in a state's toolkit.

This isn't my opinion.

This is a position shared by health care experts such as Dr. Joe Parks of the National Council for Behavioral Health, who last Friday testified before President Trump's White House Opioid Commission.

Dr. Parks said that: "Medicaid is the largest national payer for addiction and mental health treatment."

And he detailed why we must maintain the Medicaid expansion if we are going to make any progress on combatting the devastating opioid crisis.

Grants are important in this effort, which is why I voted to support the CARA and 21st Century Cures bills.

But without the dedicated funding that Medicaid brings, without the guaranteed coverage for mental health and substance use disorder treatment, the federal government will be shifting the financial burden of fighting this epidemic onto the states.

The second way this bill hurts New Mexico is this: More than 900,000 New Mexicans rely on the Medicaid program.

More than 70 percent - almost 3 out of 4 babies born in New Mexico are born with coverage in the Medicaid program.

For so many of our seniors, Medicaid is the only program that will help them and their families afford long-term care so they have the services and the dignity they deserve in their later years.

For disabled New Mexicans, including children, Medicaid helps them live their life to their greatest potential.

I hear from New Mexicans every day - like Brittany from Aztec, who I spoke about yesterday on the Floor - who called Medicaid a lifeline for her family, especially her two kids who have life-threatening allergies and need constant medical attention.

Yet, Republicans want to slash hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid and destroy the program as it currently exists, which will have consequences we still don't fully grasp.

Finally, I want to emphasize the major economic hit this bill will represent in our rural communities.

Our health care system represents about one-sixth of the nation's economy and supports millions of jobs.

The Republicans have undertaken a go-it-alone approach that will significantly impact the nation's economy without holding one hearing.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, implementing TrumpCare could cost New Mexico alone nearly 50,000 jobs by 2022.

I am the lead Democrat on the Joint Economic Committee.

Today, along with the Senate Aging Committee, we released a report showing that rural counties are more than twice as likely as urban counties to be reliant on health care jobs.

The report shows that the average pay of hospital employees in rural counties is 43 percent higher than the average pay of other workers in the same counties. Losing those jobs would be catastrophic in these communities.

Today, the Joint Economic Committee also highlighted 10 different way Republicans and Democrats could come together to improve rural health care.

There is a lot at stake in this debate.

I don't say this often, but I agree with President Trump, who called the House-passed bill "mean."

I also agree with the President that any health proposal that comes out of the Senate should have "heart."

Right now, that seems to be far from the case.

I and my Democratic colleagues remain ready to get to work on behalf of all Americans - including rural Americans - to improve our health system.

We can do this, together, if our Republican colleagues come out from the shadows and join us in this fight.

New Mexico - The Democratic Party of New Mexico released the following statement on Congressional shooting in Virginia:

"This morning's events shocked the country, and as Democrats we stand firmly against violence. Our thoughts are with the families, staff members, and Congress members who were directly involved. Though we are in contentious political times, violence is not the answer."

Santa Fe, NM- Earlier today, Legislative Council filed a petition for Writ of Mandamus in Santa Fe District Court seeking invalidation of the vetoes of ten bills passed during the regular session. Speaker Brian Egolf and Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen issued the following statement:

"Effective governing requires clear communication between the executive and legislative branches. Although those bills passed both chambers with strong bipartisan support, the legislature remains in the dark regarding Governor Martinez's objections to those bills she attempted to veto. By seeking Mandamus, we are protecting the legislative process and ensuring that the Governor complies with the constitution. If successful in the Court, we will not only have succeeded in maintaining separation of powers, but in enacting these ten bills our state can better prepare students for high-paying careers in STEM, support small businesses to grow and thrive, and provide opportunity to New Mexicans everywhere."

Albuquerque, NM - Today, a poll was released showing Republican Congressman Steve Pearce just four points behind Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham in a hypothetical match up for Governor in 2018:

Republican Steve Pearce: 43 Percent
Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham: 47 Percent
Undecided: 10 Percent

"Michelle Lujan Grisham has been actively campaigning for Governor for six months, and yet she is neck and neck with Republican Congressman Steve Pearce, who has not even decided if he's running," said Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Ryan Cangiolosi. "Congressman Pearce has a long and distinguished record fighting for our state in Congress and if he decides to run for Governor, we are confident he will win in 2018."

The poll also showed that only 35 percent of New Mexicans want Democrats to have unified control of state government, and that 51 percent want a governor with a background as a job-creating businessman and veteran.

"New Mexicans know Pearce's background as a businessman gives him the knowledge necessary to strengthen our economy," said Cangiolosi. "While many in the media were quick to coronate Lujan Grisham as the next Governor, this poll shows that she'll have considerable challenges if she continues to run as a rubber stamp on the failed legislative agenda of the Democrats."

Santa Fe, N.M. - "New Mexicans were counting on their elected officials to come together and put New Mexicans first during this Special Session, and I believe we have done that. With the Governor's signature on a bipartisan budget that restores funding for higher education and the legislature, we can now move forward with laying down a framework that puts job creation and education at the center of economic development and investment in our kids. Despite the success of the bipartisan budget, I am dismayed that commonsense legislation to create sustained revenue, and provide over $100 million in new money for Medicaid, as well as efforts to level the playing field for small businesses and hospitals will have to wait another year to become law."

Santa Fe, NM - This afternoon, Democrats in the House passed Senate Bill 2, embracing irresponsible tax hikes while our economy continues to hurt. Earlier today, Democrats voted down an important tax reform package, that would have revitalized our economy and encouraged small business growth.

"Democrats missed an opportunity to strengthen our economy and reform our broken tax code, once again voting for further tax hikes that will only worsen the state of our economy," said Republican Party of New Mexico spokesman Tucker Keene. "Unbelievably, Democrats have proposed more than $1.5 billion in higher taxes since the beginning of 2017, and have passed $683 million in tax hikes. Our economy cannot keep taking these hits."

Santa Fe, N.M. - TODAY, House Democrats signed a pledge that they would not collect their daily per diem of $164 while the House stands in recess as legislators await action from the Governor on the recently passed budget and related bills.

"Our work for today is complete, which is why I have signed the pledge to forego my per diem" said Representative and House Majority Whip Doreen Gallegos (D-Las Cruces). "New Mexicans value hard work, they also value fairness, and I am choosing to forego per diem while we await the Governor's action."

Representative Joanne Ferrary (D-Las Cruces) stated, "While I await the Governor's actions on the recently passed legislation, I am choosing to not collect a per diem while the House stands in recess."

Every member of the New Mexico Legislature has signed the pledge to decline per diem while the House stands in recess. New Mexico is the only state with an unsalaried legislature. The House will reconvene Tuesday, May 30, 2017 at 1:00 pm.

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