KUNM

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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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.

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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. 

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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

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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.

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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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The New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange reported this week that a record 54,586 people signed up for insurance using the exchange during the Affordable Care Act’s most recent open enrollment period.

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Presbyterian Medical Services was cleared of fraud allegations by the Attorney General’s Office on Monday. The nonprofit won’t be getting a refund on millions it paid to stay open after the state made those accusations in 2013.

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Ten behavioral health agencies were cleared of fraud on Monday, Feb. 8, by the New Mexico attorney general. The AG’s Office found no deliberate pattern of abuse.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

When Native American people move to Albuquerque from more rural parts of the state, some say the transition can be tough. And a community center that provides basic resources is in danger of shutting its doors. 

Ed Williams

Editor's Note: A spokeswoman for the New Mexico Environment Department emailed with concerns about this story. We reviewed them and found no inaccuracies. We stand by our reporting. You can find a link to her email and read our response here.

Decades ago, a chemical business called Laun-Dry Supply Company leaked poisonous dry cleaning solvents into Albuquerque’s groundwater.

In the years since, nobody has investigated possible health impacts to people living near the contamination.

But that changed this week. On Wednesday, the New Mexico Environment Department started the process of testing houses for chemicals from the Laun-Dry spill.

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There were 5,406 untested sexual assault evidence kits in the state at the end of last year, according to the state auditor. A pair of bills to tackle the problem cleared their first hurdles on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

The state Legislature is working up a budget, and one proposal on the table would cut more than $8 million from behavioral health services. Residents who’ve been deeply affected by drug use in their communities called on lawmakers Saturday, Jan. 30, not to cut the funding that combats it.

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Lawmakers considered proposals Monday that would use a small share of the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund to pay for early childhood education, and the measures ran into familiar roadblocks.

For the past five years, some democratic lawmakers have tried to tap into the state’s $14 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund to pay for early childhood education programs.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

    

The rate of drug overdose deaths—nationally and statewide—is racing up the charts, echoing HIV trends of 30 years ago, according to the CDC. That’s why demonstrators in Santa Fe on Saturday asked legislators not to erode resources that fight substance abuse. 

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In the latest round of the ongoing fight about food stamps, a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Jan. 27, aims to halt new work requirements. 

Ed Williams

Wednesday was Public Health Day in Santa Fe. Two dozen organizations that work on issues of health, poverty and research were at the state capital to press for funding during the legislative budget session. 

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The James Boyd killing two years ago spurred voters to increase taxes and spend additional millions every year on behavioral health in Bernalillo County. Now, there's a new roadmap for those funds.

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Lawmakers in Santa Fe are considering a number of bills aimed at addressing child welfare this session. We're taking a look at what's going on in the Round​h​ouse, from ​strengthening ​child porn laws ​and ending​ childhood obesity to domestic violence.​

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

A community center that’s helped thousands of urban Native Americans in this region over the last two decades is facing possible closure. 

The Albuquerque Indian Center is known for providing culturally sensitive services tailored to the needs of Native Americans. On an average morning there, people dig through piles of donated clothes in the main room, look over free bread in the kitchen and drop in to check their mail. 

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Hundreds of hospitals around the country—even the famous Mayo Clinic—are being fined in 2016 because of safety concerns, and six in New Mexico will be facing that fine, too.

Ed Williams


The Secretary of the Interior met with leaders of Isleta Pueblo Friday to return nearly 90,000 acres of ancestral land to the tribe.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

A law in Texas that opponents say could cause the shutdown of all but 10 abortion clinics there is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court in early March. In the meantime, some women seeking the procedure have been coming to neighboring New Mexico instead.

t_and_cake via Flickr / Creative Commons License

The federal government is giving nearly $400,000 to tribes in New Mexico to fund permanent housing for Native American veterans who are homeless. It’s the first time federal housing grants of this kind have been made to tribes.

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New Mexico’s teen birth rate is the lowest ever recorded - that’s according to new statistics from the state Department of Health. But the drop isn’t spread evenly across the state.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

The number of people who are behind bars in America is much bigger than it was 40 years ago. In fact, it’s five times higher. That means a lot more parents are doing time, and having a record can limit people’s ability to get a job, find a place to live and provide for their kids. A local program is trying to help dads get around the obstacles and back on track with their families.

Public Domain

Over a period of decades, cancer-causing solvents quietly seeped from a warehouse owned by Laun-Dry Supply Co. into the groundwater underneath dozens of homes and businesses near downtown Albuquerque. Today the plume of contamination stretches a mile and a half across the city, putting hundreds of people at risk of chemical exposure.

And government records show that employees of Laun-Dry were exposed to toxins from the plume. 

Courtesy of the Rio Grande Zoo

Chimpanzees have been bred for research here since the 1950s, and at one point, the state was home to the largest captive chimpanzee colony on the planet. But the National Institutes of Health decided to stop funding chimp research last month. The move marks a sea change in biomedical ethics—and might prove smarter for human health.

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