New Mexico's Republican Governor Susana Martinez has approved the expansion of the state's Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. Native American health advocates say the expansion will have a huge effect on one of the largest Native American populations in the nation.
Over 200,000 registered tribal members live in New Mexico - and with nearly 40% of that population lacking healthcare - it's estimated that over 25-thousand Native people in New Mexico will potentially be eligible for the program in 2014.
Nationally, Native American women are more likely to be killed, raped, assaulted and stalked than any other women in the country, according to federal crime and health data. What’s more, the offenders are both native and non-native. There’s been a breakdown in traditional practices, lack of funding for services and when it comes to non-natives, tribes don’t have the authority to arrest them on their own lands. A controversial law offered solutions but never made it through Congress in 2012.
New Mexico has one of the largest Native American populations in the nation with over 200,000 registered tribal members and it’s estimated that nearly 40% lacks health insurance. New Mexico has announced it will build a state-run healthcare exchange under the Affordable Care Act. However, the state has yet to decide on whether to expand Medicaid, which could mean a lot of tribal members would suddenly have access to affordable healthcare.
Take Erik Lujan for example: At the age of 30, Lujan, a Taos Pueblo tribal member, began experiencing medical problems.