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50th Anniversary Report Examines Medicaid in New Mexico

July 30th anniversary of social safety net programs Medicare and Medicaid. Credit: medicaid.gov
July 30th anniversary of social safety net programs Medicare and Medicaid. Credit: medicaid.gov
July 20, 2015

SANTA FE, N.M. - A new report shows how many people in New Mexico benefit from Medicaid as the program's 50th anniversary on July 30 draws near.

Judy Solomon, vice president of health policy with the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, says Medicaid provides health coverage for 576,100 low-income seniors, children and people with disabilities in the state. She says it's especially helpful for New Mexico's youngest residents.

"Less than 10 percent of kids are uninsured, and that is because of Medicaid," says Solomon. "There is no way you would have a percentage like that without the Medicaid program that's covering almost 350,000 kids."

Solomon says the program also helps improve financial security, because people with Medicaid are less likely than people without insurance to go into medical debt, or to leave other bills unpaid to cover their medical expenses.

She adds the Affordable Care Act, which led to Medicaid expansion in New Mexico and many other states, may be the most significant change in the program's history. She says it expanded a program that was previously limited by income thresholds and other factors.

"So, the ability to cover all adults, regardless of whether they're caring for a child in their home, or regardless of whether they're pregnant, is just incredibly important in ensuring the health of everybody in the country," she says.

Solomon says since Medicaid was expanded in New Mexico in 2013, the state's uninsured rate for adults dropped by nearly five percent.

Lori Abbott/Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM