Pillar One: Healthcare
New Mexico Democratic Party position:
“Healthcare is a fundamental human right. Regardless of their circumstance, everyone in New Mexico and the U.S. should have access to comprehensive, affordable, high-quality health care in conjunction with comprehensive behavioral health services, and reproductive care.”
With explosive growth in the southeastern corner of our state due to the oil and gas boom, New Mexico is faced with increasing challenges as it pertains to our healthcare system. To be blunt, it is currently woefully inadequate in every part of the district ranging from Cloudcroft to Carlsbad. There are only 3 small hospitals which serve the bulk of the residents in this district, with many citizens an hour drive or more from basic medical services or an emergency room.
This creates potentially catastrophic lost time to save a life in addition to the expense created by ambulance or airlift transport which many in the district can ill-afford due to lack of, or inadequate insurance coverage.
It is my position that we must create and maintain basic regional healthcare access to all citizens within a reasonable travel distance through the establishment of basic medical care facilities within 30 miles of any point in each county within the district. These facilities should be staffed with a general physician, an emergency room physician, an obstetrician / gynecologist, a mental health professional, and a pediatrician with each rotating on-call 24 hours / 7 days per week for emergency coverage.
We should establish rapid response airlift service for life-threatening emergencies to regional emergency rooms / trauma centers within 15 minutes from takeoff to patient stabilization and transport.
We should invest in creating regional medical centers which can handle level 1 trauma and outfit our surgical and ICU facilities to provide state-of-the-art medical care in-state. Currently, patients that have injury or illness outside of the current medical facility capabilities are sent to Lubbock, which may or may not accept a patient’s New Mexico insurance. Or accept the patient at all, for that matter.
We should be enticing doctors to our state by offering incentives for paying down their student loans. Currently, the state offers only a $2,500 bonus to doctors to come to our state. This is insulting to medical professionals who spend more than $100,000 to receive their medical degrees. We simply cannot compete with the surrounding states right now. This directly impacts the types and quality of care available to the citizens of not only District 54, but statewide.
We should also be investing in homegrown medical training for all levels of nursing, emergency service professionals, lab techs, etc. We need to invest in medical vocational training in each of our satellite college campuses (NMSU-C, for example) to provide a constant stream of educated medical support professionals to staff our medical facilities. Nurses are critical to proper, comprehensive, and adequate care.
We also need to invest in research in our college and universities. We have an opportunity right now to transform our medical research facilities into the best in the world. We can lead the way.
If Lubbock, TX can grow state of the art healthcare facilities, so can we.
I want to see New Mexico become the shining jewel in the Southwest for medical care and innovation. We can do it.
Controversial Issues – Healthcare
Medicare / Medicaid for all.
Our campaign believes that access to quality, affordable healthcare is a basic human right. We have the opportunity right now to leverage economies of scale and collective bargaining power to wrest control of our healthcare system from the hands of private, for-profit business and put it in control of the people it serves. Not only is this a more equitable approach, it saves billions over time in several areas:
- Reduced overhead costs.
- Eliminating redundancy
- Reduced malpractice insurance rates
- Better oversight and regulation
- Preventative care increases
- Major illness management expense reduces
- Reduced prescription cost
- Better overall standard of basic care
- Expanded clinic and emergency service availability
- The ability to attract better and more numerous physicians with better pay & less risk.
Therefore, I fully support an expanded Medicaid program with a buy-in option. It is more cost-effective and equitable than the current system which ignores the needs of the most vulnerable demographic groups in our state
Reproductive health / abortion
Our campaign fully supports the right of every person, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, to make their own healthcare and family planning choices.
The government should never step foot between a patient and their doctor. This is a right guaranteed in the Constitution of The United States under both the Equal Protection Clause as well as the established right to privacy under Constitutional case law.
It is our position that we should provide comprehensive health and reproductive education to every individual regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation.
It is our position that we should provide free contraceptives to every individual regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation and train them in their proper use. This not only functions as a pregnancy preventative, it also curbs the transmission rates of Sexually Transmitted Disease.
It is our position that a person who becomes impregnated against their will should be allowed to terminate that pregnancy without consequence or interference.
It is our position that everyone should be educated about consent and the penalties for violating consent stiff and equally applied.
Addictive substances / Schedule 1 drugs / opioid epidemic
It is my position that in order to effectively deal with the major issue of opioid addiction and subsequent deaths in our state, we must take a several-pronged approach. The current drug enforcement system adjudicated through our legal system has proved to be a dismal failure. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. We must look at this differently if we expect to make progress on this issue.
- Opioid drugs decriminalized for those addicted up to a certain possession amount TBD
- Producers and Pharmaceutical companies held accountable for its presence in the state
- Investment in free, widespread, clinically effective treatment and recovery programs
- Investment in medically supervised use clinics for those whose recidivism makes it impossible to quit
- Create testing labs and a registration system for producers / pharma companies who must conform to a set of laws and regulations to be allowed to import the product legally into the state.
- Exceedingly stiff penalties for producers who fail to comply with state mandated controls.
The goal here is to reduce penalties for people who have become addicted to these substances, provide treatment for those who want to stop, medically supervise those who cannot stop in clean, safe environments, and heavily penalize illicit producers and pharmaceutical companies who will not conform to the decriminalized / pseudo legalized structure.
We must stop punishing users. These substances are incredibly addictive, often after just one use. The responsibility lies with those who produce and distribute, not the user. If we remove the legal barrier to seeking treatment, we have a better chance of curbing the destruction these drugs cause.
Medical / recreational cannabis
The medical cannabis legalization in New Mexico has proved a success. I propose that we either expand our medical cannabis system to include more health issues that cannabis is known to treat, or we legalize it for recreational as well as medical use. There are several issues we must address:
- There is a monopoly on grower licenses in this state. We must open the licensing to other producers in order to create a healthy market-based production system.
- We must create a testing and regulatory system to enforce product quality and potency limits
- We must create a public education system around the drug as well as systems for keeping it out of the hands of children as it is detrimental to brain development and growth if used chronically prior to becoming an adult
- We must create programs of scientific and medical study at our universities to begin to fully understand the drug and its uses / detrimental effects
- Legitimizing the proper medical use and regulating same will have a dampening effect on the “stoner culture” which still exists around the product.
- We need to codify rules and educate employers in our state around the use of medical cannabis in the workplace.
Cannabis should be removed from Schedule 1 as it is not in the same class as opioids. In fact, it can be used as a treatment for opioid addiction. Until this happens federally, we can use our power at the state level to provide education, regulation, study, and exerting controls on the market.