Uninsured rates increase in N.M.

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By Ralph Damiani

According to a new report from the Census Bureau, released by the Associated Press, New Mexicans are increasingly without medical insurance. Of course Gov. Bill Richardson says this underscores the need for health care reforms.

And while that may be true, it is also true that many New Mexicans do not take advantage of the programs that are already currently available.

According to the report, slightly more than one in five New Mexicans lack health insurance and nearly that many live in poverty.

About 22.7 percent of New Mexicans were uninsured in 2006-2007, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. That’s up from 20.1 percent in 2004-2005.

Nationally, the percentage of Americans without health insurance declined from 2006 to 2007, according to the federal agency.

New Mexico continues to have among the highest uninsured rates in the country.

In the latest Current Population Survey, the agency uses two-year averages - 2006-2007 - for evaluating changes within a state but it provides three-year averages - 2005-2007 - to make comparisons among states.

Texas had the greatest share of its population without health insurance, 24.4 percent. New Mexico had a three-year average uninsured rate of 21.9 percent, followed by Florida with 20.5 percent.

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