Their view: Medicaid cuts could impact thousands of New Mexicans

The importance of Medicaid to New Mexicans is detailed in a report released jointly by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Diabetes Association, the American Lung Association, and the health care consumer group Families USA.

Hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans are covered by Medicaid. Of this number:

• An estimated 6,900 New Mexicans on Medicaid have cancer, including 240 children, 4,020 adults and 2,640 seniors;

• An estimated 29,990 New Mexicans on Medicaid received treatment for diabetes, including 1,770 children, 18,390 adults and 9,840 seniors;

• An estimated 56,950 New Mexicans with chronic lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis, including 30,920 children, 20,130 adults, and 5,900 seniors, rely on Medicaid coverage;

• An estimated 63,570 New Mexicans depend on Medicaid for treatment of heart disease or stroke, including 4,360 children, 38,550 adults and 20,660 seniors.

Although New Mexico directly administers its own Medicaid program, every dollar the state spends for health coverage for low-income individuals is matched at least dollar-for-dollar by the federal government. Particularly during difficult economic times, this federal match helps New Mexico to provide health coverage for hundreds of thousands of its residents.

The treatment of chronic and life-threatening diseases can be extremely costly, and often people with these illnesses become eligible for Medicaid when they have exhausted all their financial resources paying for medical care.

“Hard-working Americans with diseases such as cancer can get health coverage through Medicaid after having lost their health insurance because they are too ill to work or run through their savings,” said Christopher Hansen, President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.