New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is the second Republican state chief executive so far to embrace the Medicaid expansion that is central to President Barack Obama's health care reform law, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
Martinez, who also agreed to create a health insurance exchange under Obamacare in her state, joins Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval as the only Republicans who have announced plans to broaden Medicaid eligibility. The health care reform law seeks to provide Medicaid coverage to anyone whose income is up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which was $14,856 last year.
A Supreme Court ruling making the Medicaid expansion optional, however, has given anti-Obamacare Republicans a weapon to use against the law. To date, 10 GOP governors, most recently C.L. "Butch" Otter of Idaho, have declared they won't offer Medicaid benefits to more poor people in their states.
The New Mexico Telegram offers some additional detail about Martinez's speech in Albuquerque Tuesday:
Martinez described the decision as being part of "an obligation to provide an adequate level of basic health care services" for New Mexicans that are most in need -- while balancing that with ensuring "our state's financial security."
"This decision was made with the input of our fellow New Mexicans. Over the past few months, I've done a lot of listening. I've met with health advocates, hospital leaders, both rural and urban providers, members of the business community, legislators, and many others," said Governor Martinez in her statement.
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