Health Care Policy Preferences and New Mexicans' Valuations of a Public Good: Survey Research as a Tool for the Public Good

Health care reform is a salient policy issue nationally and at the state level and in New Mexico this is no exception. At issue is how to increase coverage and access to healthcare to promote overall health and wellbeing. Universal coverage plans have received particular attention as a means to achieve this goal, although with mixed results due to lack of funding and resistance from various stakeholders. While the reasons for this are numerous, limited funding is an important factor when it comes to programmatic expansion. The important of this study is that it provides a snapshot into the mind of New Mexicans about the provision of health care coverage, including informing the debate on what types of plans should be considered and who should be covered. As early as 2006, Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM)—an early contender for the Democratic presidential nomination who pressed the issue of health care reform—proposed a statewide plan that would insure 59,000 low-income adults (or about 15 percent of the population) in New Mexico (Heil 2006). Earlier this year, Governor Richardson announced his “Health Solutions New Mexico Plan” (Governor’s Press Release, October 25, 2007), which was the primary initiative of his ambitious 2008 legislative agenda. Governor Richardson’s plan requires all New Mexicans to have health insurance while also requiring employers to contribute to a fund to help pay for it (Baker, 2008). While the plan was not favorably received the legislature who proceeded to gut his plan due to strong but fractured opposition from the business community and a general desire to conduct further study on the potential impact of the plan before enactment, Richardson continues to push for substantive reform that will aid the uninsured population throughout NM by broadening access to private insurance and expanding existing programs (Baker, 2008).
 

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