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Sen. Heinrich on Medicaid fact-finding tour

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich toured PB&J Family Services on Tuesday to hear first hand how Medicaid pays for crucial programs for struggling families and children at the whole-family, early education nonprofit’s headquarters in the South Valley.

The stop was part of a series of visits Heinrich is taking to understand the impact of Medicaid on New Mexican families as Congress wrestles over the federal budget, including a proposed $600 billion cut to Medicaid over 10 years through a plan to cap payments to states, which would then have more flexibility to manage who gets the taxpayer-subsidized health insurance.

The national conversation has many in New Mexico, where the state Department of Health reports about 907,000 people, or about 45 percent of the population, is covered by Medicaid, anxious.

“There is an awful lot at stake in New Mexico,” Heinrich, the top Democrat on the congressional Joint Economic Committee, said at the gathering Tuesday morning.

In fiscal year 2016, Medicaid paid for nearly 20 percent of services provided at PB&J, which in that time served nearly 2,000 individuals, including children and their families in need of learning and having support in the life and communication skills necessary to prevent child abuse.

At the meeting were several families who said the services at PB&J, paid for by their Medicaid, saved them from losing their children or are helping them get their children back from state custody.

“I’m learning about how to parent him better. If (Medicaid) goes away, it’s going to affect me getting my child back,” said Brittney Baca.

But like 95 percent of the clients at PB&J, Baca falls below the federal poverty level, meaning she would qualify for the core Medicaid program, not the expansion Medicaid program most political observers worry would be on the chopping block under the proposed federal budget.

According to, the federal poverty level is $12,060 for individuals; $16,240 for a family of two; $20,420 for a family of three; $24,600 for a family of four; and $28,780 for a family of five.

New Mexico last fiscal year funneled a mix of federal and state money, about $5.3 billion, to Medicaid and expects possibly $5.7 billion in FY 2017, according the New Mexico Department of Health. Nationally, in 2016, federal taxpayers subsidized $545 billion in government health care spending, not including administrative costs, according to the government Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services.