KUNM

Marisa Demarco

Reporter

Marisa Demarco is a reporter based in Albuquerque, N.M. She's spent more than a decade in journalism, founding the New Mexico Compass, and editing and writing for the Weekly Alibi, the Albuquerque Tribune and UNM's Daily Lobo. She covered poverty and public health until September 2016 when she became a general assignment reporter at KUNM. 

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Just 26 miles east of Carlsbad, N.M., in the Chihuahuan Desert, the United States buries its radioactive waste. Mostly, that’s the clothes, tools and rags that come into contact with elements heavier than uranium on the Periodic Table. But about 4 percent of what’s dumped at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is more toxic and has to be stored in lead casks.

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Among the governor’s goals in her 2014 State of the State Address: deal with the shortage of health care providers in New Mexico. Every county except one doesn’t have an adequate supply of physicians and dentists, according to the federal government. And about 170,000 more folks will be eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Though Gov. Susana Martinez has unrolled some plans to deal with the shortage, the Legislature wasn’t able to pass measures that would have boosted the state’s health care work force.

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A 30-day legislative session—like the one that ended yesterday at noon—is mostly about hammering out a state budget. But other priorities sneak in, too, and 2014 saw a lot of public health-related bills. Here’s a look at the new laws and programs that made it out of Santa Fe alive.

Newborn Heart Disease Testing—HB 9

• Adds a test for congenital heart disease to the list of evaluations a newborn undergoes before being discharged.

UPDATE Feb. 19, 2014, 10:17 a.m.: SB 55 is awaiting a vote by the Senate.

Today was Disability Rights Awareness Day at the Roundhouse, and a bill calling for a plan for the state's troubled waiver program is stuck in committee awaiting a hearing. 

UPDATE Feb. 19, 2014, 10:35 a.m.: This measure is in the House Taxation and Revenue Committee.

The state Senate approved a bill last night that creates temporary funding for more than two dozen rural hospitals. 

UPDATE Feb. 19 11:07 a.m.: The dental therapists bill and medical malpractice act and the NMSU mental health nursing program, are stuck in committee.

Aja Riggs is on the road, visiting family and friends, and taking in some of the most beautiful natural places in the United States. She particularly loves what she calls "freaky natural things," like boiling mud coming out of the ground in Yellowstone and the organ pipe cacti near the Mexico border in Arizona.

"I'm kind of part-jokingly calling my travels my 'No Regrets Remission Tour,' " she laughs. 

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UPDATE Feb.

UPDATE Feb. 19, 2014, at 1:00 p.m.: HB 81 is stuck in committee.

Two years ago, the USDA made the first changes in a generation to public school meals. Students would see more produce at lunchtime.

UPDATE Feb. 19, 2014, at 1 p.m.: SJR 12 is stuck in committee. A measure that would tie the state's minimum wage to inflation passed the Senate and is awaiting a vote in the House.

Today marked the start of the legislative session and Celebrating Children and Youth Day at the Roundhouse.

A District Court judge ruled today that it's legal for doctors in New Mexico to prescribe medication so patients with terminal illnesses can end their own lives.

Judge Nan Nash wrote: "If decisions made in the shadow of one's imminent death regarding how they and their loved ones will face that death are not fundamental and at the core of these constitutional guarantees, then what decisions are?" 

KUNM Public Health New Mexico reporter Marisa Demarco breaks it down with the highlights of public health news for 2013.

The director of the state's Behavioral Health Services Division is resigning. Diana McWilliams submitted her resignation letter on Monday, Dec. 16, and her last day is tomorrow. She'll be heading back east to Philadelphia to become the chief operating officer for a nonprofit behavioral health and child welfare organization, she said. 

Free App Enrolls New Mexicans in Obamacare

Dec 19, 2013
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Medical residents at UNM created a free app to help New Mexicans get hooked into health care.

The app, called Get Covered New Mexico, can aid folks in calculating what they're eligible for. It links directly to websites people can use to apply for Medicaid and the health care exchange. It also points the way to the nearest physical location to apply for services in-person.

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