New Mexico congressman in swing district seeks well being care belief for oil area staff

A invoice geared toward compensating oil area staff and instant family members for uninsured medical prices associated to air air pollution and heat-related sickness has been launched by a first-term congressman from New Mexico.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabe Vasquez mentioned Wednesday his invoice would require that oil and pure gasoline corporations nationwide pay right into a belief that gives reimbursement to staff for well being prices related to illnesses linked to methane and smog, together with respiratory issues akin to bronchial asthma.

Workers can be eligible to hunt reimbursement for prices not lined by personal insurance coverage, Medicare or Medicaid, he mentioned. A full draft of the invoice as launched Wednesday was not instantly accessible.

Vasquez mentioned the proposal is an outgrowth of issues he has heard from oil area staff in southeastern New Mexico — and his observations about intensive earnings and govt compensation amongst main petroleum corporations. New Mexico is the nation’s second-largest oil producer behind Texas.

“If you’re an energy worker in Hobbs or Carlsbad who has a child who has asthma, you would benefit from this legislation,” Vasquez mentioned.

He mentioned annual contributions by vitality corporations to a well being care belief ought to equal compensation to their 10 highest-paid staff.

The invoice marks a shift in focus from an unfettered help of the oil business beneath Vasquez’s Republican predecessor, Yvette Herrell, and her criticism of vitality exploration insurance policies beneath the Biden administration.

Vasquez flipped the district, which extends from the U.S. border with Mexico to Albuquerque, to Democratic management in 2022, beneath newly drawn congressional districts that divvied up a significant oil-producing area of New Mexico amongst three districts. Republicans are difficult the redistricting in state district courtroom.

Vasquez introduced particulars of the well being compensation invoice at a gathering in Hobbs, accompanied by advocates for the immigrant-rights group Somos Un Pueblo Unido, amid testimonials from oil area staff and their spouses — talking in Spanish — about frustrations with working situations.

“In reality my heart breaks because we’re left with the effects of this industry and the corporations that don’t pay what they should for it to be a just system,” Vasquez mentioned in Spanish. “I ask you today to support us in the proposed legislation.”

The invoice is modeled after a compensation program for coal miners disabled by black lung illness, beneath the provisions of a 1969 regulation, Vasquez mentioned.

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