Martinez is only the second Republican governor to join Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) and agree to the Medicaid expansion. Other Republican governors have refused to expand the program, essentially acknowledging that they would rather allow low-income people in their state to go uninsured than to follow the law of their Democratic president.
The AP estimates that the expansion will help cover roughly 170,000 people in New Mexico:
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez says New Mexico will follow provisions of a federal health care law to expand the state’s Medicaid program to potentially provide medical services to 170,000 low-income adults.[…]
Martinez made the announcement Wednesday during a speech in Albuquerque.
About a fourth of New Mexico’s population currently receives health care through Medicaid, but the program mostly covers uninsured children in low-income families along with the disabled and some extremely low-income adults.
The expansion in 2014 will make adults eligible with incomes of about $26,000 for a family of three or $15,400 for an individual.
New Mexico has among the highest rates of uninsured in the country. The Medicaid expansion seeks to remedy this problem by permitting those within 133 percent of the federal poverty line to join the program, helping aide those who earn too much to qualify, but not enough to afford coverage.
The state also moved to set up its health insurance exchange earlier this month.