Public Health New Mexico

KUNM's Public Health New Mexico reporting project provides in-depth, investigative and continuous coverage of public health in New Mexico, with an emphasis on poverty. For all articles and web exclusive content, go to publichealthnm.org 

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President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just announced a joint effort to cut down on methane leaks from oil and gas wells. The agreement was part of the Paris climate accord and will have impacts here in New Mexico.

Pecos Enterprise, Smokey Briggs / Courtesy of The Nation

The number of people being prosecuted for illegally crossing the border has risen drastically over the last couple of decades. And the penalty can include lengthy stays behind bars. But where do all these inmates go? 

Karen McCullough

In some parts of Bernalillo County’s South Valley, parks sit adjacent to idling trains, schools lie across the street from waste disposal businesses, and entire neighborhoods are bordered by polluting industries. People living there are what’s known as environmental justice communities—neighborhoods that bear a disproportionate burden of pollution.

BRRT via Pixabay / public domain

KUNM’s Public Health New Mexico project has been reporting on a plume of toxic chemicals in Albuquerque’s groundwater for over six months.

We obtained public documents from the New Mexico Environment Department that show the groundwater plume has been spreading underneath a mile-and-a-half-long swath of Albuquerque’s Sawmill and Wells Park neighborhoods. Our investigation shows the contamination has the potential to reach people on the surface and could pose a serious health risk to people living and working in the area.

Matthew D. Britt via Flickr / Creative Commons License

A new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association says New Mexico is the state with the highest rate of pedestrian deaths in America.

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How quickly criminal cases work their way through the system has a big impact on defendants’ lives. And it’s been a little over a year since the state Supreme Court first set deadlines to speed things up and clear thousands of backlogged cases in Bernalillo County, the state’s busiest judicial district. The criminal justice system is still adjusting.

Ed Williams

    

For many people who are homeless or who have behavioral health issues, the right medical care is too far out of reach. Often folks turn to emergency services for basic healthcare—which can be both expensive and ineffective.

Santa Fe is just one of a dozen cities across the U.S. to try out a new program that brings meaningful help to people who frequently call 911.

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More than half a million people in the state make use of food stamps. Federal judges ordered the state on Monday, March 7, to halt work requirements for the program.  

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

The Legislature found more money for health care this year than it did last year, but it’s still not enough to cover the costs of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. A group of advocates and associations from all corners of the health care system met on Friday to grapple with the projected shortfall.

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KUNM Call In Show Thu. 3/10 8a: New Mexico's Supreme Court created a new set of rules aimed at clearing a backlog of cases in Bernalillo County's criminal justice system. But there's been pushback from folks who say the new deadlines are tough to meet. 

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A congressional panel investigating fetal tissue exchange held its first hearing this week, and among the topics of debate: Should institutions be forced to turn over a list of names of the people involved? Officials at the University of New Mexico have expressed concerns about doing so.

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The state’s Medicaid Advisory Committee is meeting Friday afternoon in Santa Fe to talk about budget shortfalls. 

One lawmaker called it the tightest budget in memory after the legislative session ended last month. And advocates are warning that Medicaid will be millions short, which could mean higher fees for low-income patients, lower rates for providers and limited job growth in the health care field. About 40 percent of the state’s population is covered by Medicaid after the expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Nikolai Vassiliev / Creative Commons via Flickr

Health insurance can be complicated and understanding how to get covered can be difficult. Students at a specialized charter school in Albuquerque are producing podcasts to help people navigate the health insurance system.

Ed Williams

Mountain View, a neighborhood in the Rio Grande Valley south of Albuquerque, is one of the most environmentally burdened communities in New Mexico. There are dozens of industrial facilities, and hardly any places for kids to play outside. With heavy traffic and no sidewalks, just walking home can be dangerous.

But some of that is changing, with the help of a new wildlife refuge.  

Darko Stojanovich via Pixabay / Creative Commons

Budget woes at the New Mexico Department of Health are forcing a public health office in Albuquerque to close. 

The Alamosa Public Health clinic in southwest Albuquerque provides immunizations, STD screening, family planning and other services. Clients seeking help there are often low-income or uninsured.

Public Library of Science via CC

A congressional committee that is investigating abortion providers nationally that supply fetal tissue to researchers asked several clinics to hand over documents. On Monday, an Albuquerque clinic provided just about all of the info that was requested—except for one thing.

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New Mexico has one of the highest overdose death rates in the country, and recent spikes in the state’s numbers have been linked to the abuse of prescription opiates. But a drug that reverses overdoses is about to become more widely available.

Ed Williams

Hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans don’t have enough food to eat. A lot of those people also have expensive medical conditions that can make buying food even harder.

A new program is trying to bridge that gap, by getting healthy food to people suffering from chronic health problems.

Zack McCarthy via CC

Behavioral health funding in New Mexico took about a $4 million hit at the end of last week’s legislative session. But the Human Services Department may have asked for even less money than that.

Diliff via Wikipedia / creative commons license

New Mexico’s Democratic congressional delegation is calling for a federal investigation into the shakeup of the state’s behavioral health system.

taberandrew via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Lawmakers voted Wednesday to study a plan that would make small dollar loans available to state employees. At 26 percent interest, the loans would offer options for low income borrowers who have traditionally turned to high interest storefront loans.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

The legislative session ended at noon on Thursday, Feb. 18, and even though funding was scarce, lawmakers found money to process sexual assault evidence that’s been piling up around the state. 

West Midlands Police via CC

In the final hours of the 2016 session, lawmakers are scrambling to push legislation through and finish the budget. Several measures would address the almost 5,500 untested rape kits in the state, including one that creates a task force to help survivors and ensure their rights.

Andy Rudorfer via Flickr

A bill to toughen curfew rules for kids in New Mexico failed in the legislature Tuesday night. 

House Bill 29 would have let local governments set their own curfews for minors. It made it through the House of Representatives, but got derailed by the Senate Judiciary Committee this week when it failed on a 6-4 vote.

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Changes to the way the courts handle bail passed both chambers of the state Legislature as of Wednesday morning and will be on the ballot in November. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

More than 20 organizations joined together Tuesday to call on lawmakers not to cut funding for behavioral health services. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

In the final days of the 2016 session, lawmakers are trying to figure out how to deal with a tight budget caused by plummeting oil and gas prices. 

Daniel Schwen / CC-BY-SA 4.0

UPDATED 2/16 7a:

Several groups that were in favor of a bail reform measure are yanking their support after a House committee amended it Monday, Feb. 15. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

KUNM Call In Show Thu. 2/18 8a: 

  

The state’s attorney general cleared just about all of the providers accused of Medicaid fraud a couple of years ago—but the news didn’t come soon enough to keep many of their doors open.

Neil Conway via CC

UPDATE: The Associated Press is reporting that New Mexico House Republicans and Senate Democrats say they have reached a compromise on a bail reform proposal.

Both sides spoke Friday at a press conference, with Republican Rep. David Adkins saying the bill crafted by Sen. Peter Wirth, a Santa Fe Democrat, is the "right piece of legislation to support."

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