Last year, New Mexican state legislators nearly passed the nation’s first state-based universal health care program. The New Mexico Health Security Act, a bill which will be introduced again during 2019’s legislative session, would establish a single health plan covering around 1,800,000 New Mexicans. The Health Security Plan would cover people regardless of their income, employment, citizenship status, gender, and current health and would be administered by a public body comprised of people from all over the state. This commission’s decisions would be discussed and made in open meetings, and so would be accountable to grassroots demands. The New Mexico Health Security Act would democratize health care and weaken capitalists’ power over workers.
The New Mexico Health Security Act has been built by over 145 organizations during the last 18 years. This coalition includes labor unions, faith contingents, consumer advocacy groups, grassroots and community organizers, and blocs of doctors, nurses, and working class people. After members lobbied legislators and spoke at committee hearings during New Mexico’s 2017 legislative session, DSA Santa Fe voted to become a member organization of the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign. Deepening our commitment to making health justice real, DSA Santa Fe resolved to begin its first chapter-wide campaign: to publicize and agitate for the Health Security Act. Since then, Doña Ana County DSA has made the HSA its top priority, and Albuquerque DSA has agreed to help. New Mexico’s democratic socialists have begun canvassing, flyering, and tabling events across the state to spread the word, from the small farming village of Dixon to downtown Las Cruces: universal health care is possible in the Land of Enchantment. Despite its supposed poverty, New Mexico is rich with imagination and talent to be used fighting for health justice. And, if the New Mexico Health Security Act passes in January and is then implemented, New Mexico’s health plan could serve an analogous role to Saskatchewan’s implementation of Canadian Medicare.
New Mexicans can lead the way in making those in power guarantee that healthcare is a right. This work will help people across the United States better imagine a culture of care: people guaranteeing each other dignity; people ensuring each other freedom. By passing laws like the New Mexico Health Security Act, we will restore our political imaginations and rid ourselves of the limiting and deadening cruelties of capitalism. An injury to one is an injury to all—and when one is healed, all are healed.