March 18, 2020

Childcare workers with COVID-19 can get state-funded insurance

The state announced that uninsured childcare workers who test positive for COVID-19 will be able to enroll in a state insurance plan during the public health emergency.

Uninsured early childcare workers and their families will be able to enroll in New Mexico Medical Insurance Pool (NMMIP), the state’s high-risk pool, during the public health emergency if they or their family members test positive to COVID-19, a type of coronavirus. The state will pay the premiums, according to the statement.

Under emergency rules issued by the Superintendent of Insurance, deductibles and copayments are also waived for treatment of COVID-19, influenza and pneumonia through NMMIP. This new rule will apply to all childcare workers and their immediate family members who test positive regardless of income or immigration status, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in the statement.

The board of NMMIP held an emergency meeting on March 6 and voted to include COVID-19 as one of its covered conditions, which triggers expedited enrollment. 

Some childcare worker advocates told NM Political Report earlier this week that they were concerned that the state is putting the workers, who make, on average, $9.10 an hour, at risk by asking them to continue to work and care for children during the public health emergency. The advocates said they wanted to see the workers receive hazard pay during the crisis.

Related: Some question why childcare centers are still open during public health emergency

There was no mention of hazard pay in the statement.

Various agencies within the state are also looking to ensure that child care services are available to first responders, health care professionals and other essential workers during the public health emergency. The Early Childhood Education and Care Department is surveying key industries to identify precisely who those workers are.

Normally, the Childcare Assistance Program through the Children, Youth and Families Department enables low-income families who are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, are working or in school and need assistance to receive assistance with child care payments. But during the emergency, income threshold eligibility will be waived.

In addition, the state is encouraging citizens who are uninsured and eligible for Medicaid, including families with children who may be eligible even if their parents are not, to enroll, according to the statement. Lujan Grisham said there are about 56,000 residents who qualify.

To sign up, go to the state Human Services Department website.