Gov. Susana Martinez complained about the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act but told reporters other provisions in the law are important for ‘taking care of that very needy population.’ She said she wants to keep the law in its entirety – or at least parts of it.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s upholding of almost all of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act on Thursday, most reaction in New Mexico and elsewhere was predictably divided along partisan lines.
Democrats were overjoyed. Most Republicans, not so much, and they used the ruling to make a push for the election of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney as the last opportunity to overturn the law.
Then reporters in Santa Fe asked Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican and Romney supporter, what she thought of the ruling. Martinez gave a nuanced and mixed response.
Though she doesn’t support the individual mandate in the law that requires people to buy insurance or pay a fine, Martinez said she supports a provision that allows children to stay on parents’ insurance plans until they’re 26. She also appeared to endorse a provision that prohibits insurance carriers from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
Full statement and video
Here’s what Martinez said when asked if she agreed with Romney that the law should be repealed:
“You know, what I think is important is that we provide a system that is available to those that are most in need, making sure that we are not forcing families to buy something that they can’t afford. But, by the same token, I think there are parts of it, for example, you know being allowed to have your child, until they are 26, insure them. They are going to college, etc., I think that’s a good thing. I think the pre-existing conditions, you know, we want to make sure that we’re taking care of people. So, I want to make sure that, is it in its entirety, or are there parts of it that we can keep, to make sure that we’re taking care of that very needy population.”
Then Martinez was asked if the law is good for New Mexico, and she said this:
“I don’t think raising taxes in New Mexico when we’re struggling economically and trying to turn the corner, and raising taxes on middle-class families, is a good thing to do right now. I think we need to not force people to buy something, and if you don’t, we’re going to raise your taxes on you – and if they can’t afford it, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”
Capitol Report New Mexico’s Rob Nikolewski posted video of Martinez’s response. You can watch it here:
Martinez’s response is important because the Supreme Court ruled that the law could not force states to grow Medicaid by threatening to withhold federal funding. As ProPublica reported Thursday, one question now is whether states will decide to participate in the law’s massive expansion of Medicaid.
A Martinez spokesman was quoted today by the Albuquerque Journal as saying the governor hasn’t decided whether to support such an expansion.
Obama campaign touts Martinez’s stance
In the meantime, the Obama campaign was quick to tout Martinez’s response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in a news release:
“Breaking with Mitt Romney, New Mexico Governor and Romney supporter Susana Martinez today touted the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and declined to endorse the repeal of the law. Specifically, Governor Martinez highlighted how the law will ban insurance companies from discriminating against Americans with preexisting conditions and allows young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until the age of 26, calling them ‘a good thing.’ It’s a particularly good thing for the 860,000 New Mexicans with pre-existing conditions and the 21,000 New Mexico young adults who would otherwise be uninsured but today have coverage on their family insurance.”
Without a statement from Martinez in support of a full repeal, the Romney campaign instead trotted out her economic development secretary, Jon Barela, who said this in a release:
“Today’s Supreme Court decision to uphold President Obama’s abominable health-care law means a future of rising taxes and stagnating economic growth for the state of New Mexico. It means more burdensome regulations and mandates will infringe on the ability of New Mexico businesses to grow and create jobs.”
Martinez’s own state GOP also joined the elect-Romney-and-repeal-ObamaCare train with two e-mails about the “ObamaCare emergency.”
“We need to send Mitt Romney to the White House this November,” state GOP Chairman Monty Newman said in a news release. “The stakes for our families and our future could not be higher.”
Martinez also broke with Romney on immigration
Martinez endorsed Romney earlier this month, but this is the second time she’s disagreed with him on a key policy issue. She was quoted in Newsweek in May criticizing his stance on immigration. From Andrew Romano’s article:
“As we sit down at a local Starbucks, I ask about immigration. It’s a topic she has been reluctant to discuss since winning the Republican primary in 2010, so what comes next is surprising: a battle plan that contradicts nearly everything the GOP has been doing and saying since 2007, Romney’s ‘self-deportation’ strategy included. ‘Self-deport? What the heck does that mean?’ Martinez snaps. ‘I have no doubt Hispanics have been alienated during this campaign. But now there’s an opportunity for Gov. Romney to have a sincere conversation about what we can do and why.’”