by Myra Segal
May 4, 2011

Mother’s Day is coming up. As a mom, I can’t help thinking what a big help America’s new health care law will be to moms like me around the state in promoting and protecting our children’s health and the strength of our families.

I feel fortunate that my two daughters are covered by employer-provided health insurance. I also know not everyone is so fortunate, and that the recession has made such coverage less secure and more expensive for a lot of families like ours. That’s why it’s so important to families facing new challenges and uncertain futures that New Mexico leaders focus on getting Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation right.

We’re already seeing progress for children and their families. Parents can now keep their children on the family’s health insurance plan through age 26, children can no longer be denied coverage because of conditions like asthma or diabetes, and kids can get free preventive care. These important ACA improvements are already making health insurance work better – focusing health care dollars on cost-effective prevention, and catching kids’ small problems early so they don’t grow into big ones.

That should be every parent’s standard for assessing Santa Fe’s progress in implementing the law: delivering more value for every dollar and delivering quality care that meets our kids’ needs. When New Mexico launches its “exchange” health care marketplace, it’s got to deliver quality health insurance at competitive prices, through a system that parents can understand. It’s got to have children-specific quality standards, so parents know their premium dollar is actually buying insurance that meets their kids’ needs. It should work seamlessly with Medicaid, to ensure that if families fall on hard times, their children’s health care won’t fall through the cracks. And parents should be able to rely on a trusted local advisor to help them sort through the new options and make the best choice for their kids.

Every New Mexico child should be able to get the check-ups and preventive care they need to stay healthy and be able to see the doctor when they get sick. And every mom should be able to focus on raising strong and healthy children, knowing that a playground accident or a flu outbreak won’t drive the family into debt. The ACA is already providing confidence for parents facing tough economic times that their children will be able to get the care they need. And if parents stay involved and keep lawmakers’ attention focused on kids, New Mexico can make the new law an even bigger win for our children – and their moms.

This Mother’s Day, I invite every New Mexico mom to join me in thanking the members of our state’s Congressional delegation, including Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, and Representatives Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan, for their leadership in strengthening health care for kids through the Affordable Care Act. And thanks, too, to state legislators like Senator Dede Feldman who are fighting to keep kids front-and-center as we implement the law.

They’re giving every mom a better chance to get what she really wants most – healthy kids.

Myra Segal is NM Voices’ Deputy Policy Director