New Mexico's first congressional district-- basically Albuquerque and the rest of Bernalillo County with a few thousand voters in Sandoval, Torrance, Valencia and Santa Fe counties-- has become safely blue over the last decade. The PVI is D+7. Hillary beat Trump there 51.6% to 35.1% and this year Biden beat Trump with a significantly wider margin-- 60.2% to 37.4%. The current congresswoman, Deb Haaland, has been drafted into Biden's Cabinet and the district central committee will pick a nominee once the Senate confirms Haaland.
Simply put, Antoinette Sedillo Lopez is the single most progressive member of the New Mexico legislature, with a sterling record to prove it. In 2018, Blue America was proud to endorse her for the NM-01 open seat. She grew up on her parents farm in Los Chavetz, New Mexico, earned a B.A. from University of New Mexico and a law degree from UCLA and then worked as a law clerk for the US Court of Appeals for DC. She taught law at her alma mater in Albuquerque and was a dean at the law school. Right now she serves as vice-chair for the state Senate's Conservation Committee. In November she was re-elected to her senate seat with 78.1% of the vote. She wrote the guest post below about why she is a strong proponent of Medicare-for-All. If you like what you read, please consider contributing to her fledgling campaign by clicking on the Blue America 2021-'22 congressional thermometer on the right.
-by State Senator Antoinette Sedillo Lopez
While healthcare disparities were a crisis before this pandemic, Covid-19 has put those disparities on dramatic and heartbreaking display. My core values as a servant leader are justice, equity, and stewardship, and healthcare intersects with all three.
With the many racial and economic disparities in our healthcare system, we can take a step towards justice by enacting a fully universal Medicare-for-all type of healthcare system so that all persons, regardless of their race, their neighborhood, their state and their income have access to the healthcare they need.
With millions of families going broke every year under crippling medical debt we can provide equity to all Americans by making quality healthcare freely accessible to all people.
As Covid-19 has shown us, when any person or group of people suffers an illness, we all are at risk and share in the suffering. As a steward of our public health, I will refer to science to enact public policy and health systems that will not only provide universal healthcare but will also educate all Americans on how to stay healthy and safe.
The racial disparities in healthcare have been greatly magnified by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Navajo people-- the Dine-- have been ravaged by the virus, as have all native people. Latinos throughout the nation are disproportionately sickened by the virus and have a higher death rate than the general population. African-Americans’ hospitalization and death rates from the virus are also much higher than those of the general population. Asian-Americans, as identified in the CDC survey, seem to have a lower infection rate, yet their hospitalization and death rate is higher than the general population; it is possible that this reported lower infection rate may simply reveal lack of access to testing.
Incarceration may be a death sentence for individuals who cannot control their own environments. The Trump immigration detention camps are COVID-19 superspreader centers. Jails and their revolving doors are vectors for community spread. Economically disadvantaged people of all races are performing essential work and exposing themselves to the risk of infection with no health insurance, no paid time off, and very few social safety nets.
The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare a hard truth about healthcare in this country. It is largely rationed based on ability to pay. Unfortunately, that reality falls disproportionately on people of color. This makes universal health care a moral imperative.
This is not a new idea. On March 25, 1966 at a press conference in Chicago right before his speech at the second convention of the Medical Committee for Human Rights (MCHR), Dr. Martin Luther King said:
We are concerned about the constant use of federal funds to support this most notorious expression of segregation. Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death.
The disparities in hospitalization and death rates give us a daily reminder of the truth of those words. Universal health care is not the only solution to this problem but it is a basic step toward justice. Refusing to enact Medicare for All in the face of all of the evidence tells Americans that their government believes that racial inequities in health do not matter. We can no longer accept physical death to maintain the status quo to support an insurance industry that puts profits before the health of an individual or the public at large. I will never stop advocating for universal healthcare--a basic human right.