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NM third-highest in number of uninsured children

Resource type: News

The Associated Press State & Local Wire |

New Mexico has the third-highest rate in the nation of children without medical insurance more than one in six, according to a new report by Families USA. Some 93,000 New Mexico children lack health insurance, according to the report, which is based on the Census Bureau’s latest current population survey. Most of the state’s uninsured children come from working families, the report said. Nearly 86 percent of them live in families in which at least one parent works, and nearly 73 percent live in households in which one family member has a full-time, year-round job. A report earlier this month from the Economic Policy Institute of Washington, D.C., ranked New Mexico worst in the country for the percentage of residents covered by health insurance through their employers. Families USA said the number of uninsured children in New Mexico continues to climb rising by more than 5,500 from the three-year period of 2003 to 2005 to the 2005-2007 period. The period also doesn’t reflect this year’s worsening economic situation, said the organization, which advocates for health care. The report, “Left Behind: New Mexico’s Uninsured Children,” said 64.6 percent of the uninsured children come from families with incomes that fall below twice the poverty level, which equates to $35,200 for a family of three in New Mexico. The report said they are likely eligible for safety net programs such as Medicare or New Mexikids. Last year, the average annual out-of-pocket employee cost for family coverage insurance in New Mexico was $3,147, nearly 9 percent of the income for a family of three living at twice the poverty level, Families USA said. The report said more than 40 percent of New Mexico’s children are covered by public programs such as Medicaid, 42 percent are covered by private insurance and 17.6 percent lack insurance. Families USA wants a temporary increase in federal support for Medicaid and a reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, SCHIP. The program expires March 31. SCHIP, a federal-state partnership, provides coverage to about 6.6 million people in the United States, the vast majority of them children in working families that make too much to be eligible for Medicaid but who cannot afford insurance. Congress tried to more than double SCHIP spending last year to about $12 billion annually, but President Bush vetoed it twice. He said the bills would move too many children from private health insurance to government-sponsored coverage.