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At Second Anniversary, NM has Mixed Views of Affordable Care Act

March 21, 2012

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - As the United States approaches Friday's second anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Andrew Hsi, a professor of pediatrics and family medicine at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, believes the federal legislation has been a positive step for New Mexico families.

Many children in the state who are eligible for Medicaid coverage are not enrolled, Hsi says, and that's likely to change.

"The Affordable Care Act provides for new outreach grants to states, so they can increase the number of kids who are currently financially eligible."

Hsi also points to the benefits of allowing young people to stay on their parents' health insurance until age 26, and covering children with pre-existing health conditions. However, he is concerned that the Legislature could continue to resist the new federal law. New Mexico's effort to implement the law so far has lagged behind that of other states.

In two more years, behavioral health-care coverage is set to go into effect. Hsi says the areas of behavioral health and substance abuse services are important for New Mexico children.

"There's a significant number of young people who have psychiatric and behavioral health issues that currently are having difficulty accessing care providers."

Bill Jordan, policy director for New Mexico Voices for Children, says the Affordable Care Act is expected to pump a lot of money into the state's economy through Medicaid and tax credits.

"The amount of money that will come from those two sources is going to be over $10 billion coming to the state over the next seven years."

Despite the state's unwillingness to embrace the new law, Jordan calls New Mexico one of the Affordable Care Act's "big winners." He says the state will benefit as much or more than any other in the nation.

Beth Blakeman, Public News Service - NM