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New Mexico Residents Struggle to Navigate Health Care System in Crisis

In New Mexico, where a quarter of the residents do not have health insurance, rising poverty rates and a lack of medical facilities are straining the system and bringing health care to the forefront of this year's election.

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  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    While people wait for food, Jane Batson works the line, looking for those with health care problems.

  • JANE BATSON:

    Have you got one?

  • NEW MEXICO RESIDENT:

    Oh, a doctor? No.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    As dean of health at Eastern New Mexico University Roswell, Batson is keenly aware that nearly one quarter of the people in New Mexico have no health insurance. That's the second-highest percentage of any state in the nation.

    Many of these people work for the small businesses that drive much of the economy of the state and whose owners can't afford to offer health insurance.

    So Batson, in conjunction with the food pantry, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, and several drug companies, runs this outreach program.

  • DOCTOR:

    OK, a little stick, one, two, three.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    It provides blood pressure checks, diabetes screening, and help for people like Sandra Beckley.

  • DOCTOR:

    Are you taking meds?

  • SANDRA BECKLEY:

    I just run out of them about a month ago. It's really hard for me to breathe.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    Beckley has asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, four herniated discs, carpal tunnel syndrome, and no health insurance. She's too disabled to work and can't afford the drugs she needs to control her asthma.

  • SANDRA BECKLEY:

    There's been several times this past month since I've ran out of my inhalers that I've seriously thought about calling 911 because I felt like I was just breathing through a straw.

  • DOCTOR:

    Are you having any mucous drainage?

  • SANDRA BECKLEY:

    Yes.

  • JANE BATSON:

    She's really quite typical.

  • DOCTOR:

    How much water do you drink every day?

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