Delivery alert

There may be an issue with the delivery of your newspaper. This alert will expire at NaN. Click here for more info.

Recover password

Washington Notebook: Heinrich, Udall sign on to universal health care bill

The bill has no chance of becoming law with Republicans in control of Congress and the White House, but New Mexico’s senators are among a group of at least 16 Democrats who signed on to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ legislation this week to enact a so-called single-payer system that gives every American access to comprehensive health insurance regardless of income or employment status.

Sen. Tom Udall

Sen. Tom Udall

“I believe that health care is a human right, and that all New Mexicans – and all Americans – should be able to see a doctor when they’re sick,” said Sen. Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat who has supported similar proposals in the past. “A hardworking single mother in New Mexico deserves the same quality health care for herself and her family as a multimillionaire CEO.”

Udall, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, said he worked with Sanders on provisions in the bill related to Indian health to ensure the Indian Health Service would be a participating provider and that it would be allowed to continue serving only tribal communities.

Sen. Martin Heinrich

Sen. Martin Heinrich

Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., also signed on to the bill, the Medicare for All Act.

“It is time to recognize that health care is a human right, and I believe that the best way to make that a reality in our nation is to build on what we all know works,” Heinrich said. “Americans across the political spectrum recognize just how well the Medicare program delivers quality health care results at a reasonable cost. That is why I am joining in solidarity with others that share this vision by cosponsoring the Medicare For All Act.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders

To say President Donald Trump opposes the bill would be an understatement. “Bernie Sanders is pushing hard for a single payer healthcare plan – a curse on the U.S. & its people,” Trump tweeted Thursday.

Abortion: Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., has asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate an Albuquerque abortion provider’s relationship with the University of New Mexico.

Southwestern Women’s Options in Albuquerque trained UNM medical students in providing abortions, but the medical school canceled that arrangement in late 2015. The late-term abortion provider has also provided fetal tissue from the center’s abortion procedures to the UNM Health Sciences Center for medical research. The Albuquerque clinic and Health Sciences Center officials contend the fetal tissue transfer is legal and integral to the study of diseases.

Pearce and a congressional panel investigating fetal tissue research contend that the clinic violated the Spradling Act, which establishes New Mexico law on donation of body parts for medical purposes. The clinic denies any wrongdoing.

The congressional Select Panel on Infant Lives asked New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas to investigate more than a year ago, and a spokesman says the investigation is ongoing.

“I believe the Department of Justice has a legal responsibility to look into these violations if the New Mexico attorney general refuses to take action,” Pearce said in a statement.

Southwestern Women’s Options spokeswoman Heather Brewer said, “When a woman makes the decision to have an abortion, she may also decide to donate fetal tissue for lifesaving research.

“Southwestern Women’s Options has cooperated fully with the New Mexico attorney general’s ongoing investigation and will continue to do so.”