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New Mexico reduced the number of uninsured children by 48 percent between 2013 and 2015.(Kathy Yeulet/iStockphoto)

New Mexico Cuts Number of Uninsured Kids by Almost Half

SANTA FE, N.M. — About 26,000 more children in New Mexico were covered by health insurance in 2015 than in 2013, largely because of the Affordable Care Act, a new report says.

Researchers from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families found that the rate of uninsured kids fell from 8.5 percent to 4.5 percent – which is just below the national average of 4.8 percent. Sireesha Manne, supervising attorney with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, said the fact that more than 95 percent of kids in the state now have insurance can be credited to the expansion of Medicaid under the ACA.

“We had some of the highest gains of the country in getting children insured because we expanded Medicaid,” Manne said. “What that did was, it got more parents enrolled into Medicaid, which then brought a lot more children into the program and we saw huge gains of tens of thousands of children.”

The ACA included millions of dollars for outreach, which is being used by community groups to reach the 22,000 children who remain uninsured – many of whom are eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP.

Joan Alker, executive director at the center at Georgetown and co-author of the report, said much of that outreach is tailored to reach communities that need it most.

“The racial and ethnic groups that have the highest level of uninsurance are, American Indian/Alaskan Native children – who have the highest – and then Hispanic children have the next highest,” Alker said. “But Hispanic children, because they are a growing part of our population, are disproportionately uninsured.”

Back in 2008, before CHIP was reauthorized by Congress, the problem was much worse, with 13.3 percent of children in New Mexico going without health insurance.

Author: Suzanne Potter, Public News Service (NM)

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