Public Health New Mexico

Poverty and Public Health
5:33 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

CDC Says Excessive Drinking Costs Taxpayers Billions

The cost of excessive alcohol consumption in the United States reached $223.5 billion in 2006 or about $1.90 per drink.
Credit Centers for Disease Control

Excessive alcohol consumption cost United States taxpayers more than $220 billion in 2006. That's according to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control.

According to the CDC, excessive alcohol consumption, primarily binge drinking, poses a huge public health problem across the country. Major economic impacts include police responses to violence and treatment of health problems related to alcohol.

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Poverty and Public Health
5:16 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Twitter Town Hall Abuzz About Behavioral Health, Medicaid

(L-R) US Rep. Ben Lujan, NM AG Gary King, HSD's Julie Weinberg, St. Sen. Linda Lopez, Health Exchange IT Bob Meyer, HSD's Diana McWilliams, Primary Care Assoc.'s David Roddy
Credit Deborah Martinez

Rio Arriba County health officials hosted their first-ever Twitter Town Hall today - A panel of experts answered tweeted questions about Medicaid.   The twittersphere was abuzz with questions about the state's recent audit of behavioral health providers.

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Poverty and Public Health
6:18 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Rio Arriba County To Hold Twitter Town Hall On Medicaid

Credit publik15 via Flickr

Health officials in Northern New Mexico are turning to social media to get residents involved in a discussion about the state's Medicaid program.

Rio Arriba County Officials are hosting their second annual health fair in Española tomorrow.  In addition to dental screenings and immunizations, the event features – a Twitter Town Hall. 

In rural areas  social media  can be an important tool for communications.  US Representative Ben Ray Lujan will moderate a panel of experts who will answer tweeted questions about Medicaid services. 

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Poverty and Public Health
2:33 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Legislature Delays Funding Of New Behavioral Health Contractors

NM State Capitol
Credit Legislative Finance Committee

The state Human Services Department has run into a roadblock with the contracts it signed with five Arizona providers who are taking over management of behavioral health services in New Mexico.  The Legislative Finance Committee has delayed transfer of funds to pay for the out-of-state firms’ contracts, but the  Arizona contractors still have  an obligation to provide services to behavioral health clients.

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KUNM On NPR
3:13 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Laid To Rest: A Proper Burial For The Poor

In lieu of names, this headstone was engraved with a quote: "We grow afraid of what we might forget. We will find peace and value through community in knowing that we belong to each other. Dedicated to the Citizens of Bernalillo County."
Carrie Jung KUNM

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 4:56 pm

On a blisteringly hot summer afternoon, about 40 people gather at the Evangelico Cemetery in southwestern Albuquerque. Deacon Pablo Lefebre leads the service and begins with a prayer

"Because God has chosen to call our brothers and our sisters from this life to himself," he says, "we commit their bodies to the earth, its resting place. For we are dust, and to dust we shall return."

This isn't your average funeral. The light gray casket about to be lowered into the ground is filled with the cremated remains of 87 county residents.

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Poverty and Public Health
6:04 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Los Lunas Behavioral Health Provider Braces For Shift In Management

The courtyard of Valencia Counseling Service in Los Lunas
Deborah Martinez

New Mexico behavioral health providers who had their Medicaid funding frozen after allegations of fraud and mismanagement are in the process of transitioning to management from several Arizona contractors.

Meanwhile, Valencia Counseling Service, a facility south of Albuquerque, is holding out for a last minute reprieve from an Albuquerque District Court.

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KUNM Call In Show
9:56 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Gov. Martinez's Administration: Arizona Behavioral Health Providers Are Here To Stay

Credit unsure shot via Flickr

There’s been a lot of uncertainty about what new management by out-of-state firms will mean for behavioral health providers in New Mexico. Thursday morning on the KUNM Call In Show some of that uncertainty was dispelled by Diana McWilliams of the state Human Services Department .

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Local News
6:28 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Interview: Attorney General Gary King On Behavioral Health Fraud Investigation

Attorney General Gary King, left, and HSD Secretary Sidonie Squier review behavioral health audit findings before Squier’s testimony to the Legislative Finance Committee earlier this month.
Credit Bryant Furlow

 

New Mexico's Human Services Department recently accused 15 of New Mexico's largest Behavioral Health Care providers of Medicaid fraud, after results from an audit aroused suspicion. Providers have had their Medicaid funding frozen, and many have been forced to turn over their case loads to Arizona companies.  The audit has been released to the Attorney Generals office for a full investigation. Recently AG Gary King  announced that his office was fast tracking the investigation. He spoke with KUNM's Rita Daniels to explain just what exactly that means.

 

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Poverty and Public Health
3:13 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Mom Worries About Behavioral Health Services For Her Son With Schizophrenia

Many clients of the providers who've had their funding frozen are considered some of the most fragile residents of the state. Gay Finlayson's son Neil was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 20. Doctors told the family it was one of the most difficult mental health conditions to treat.

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Poverty and Public Health
3:00 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Psychiatrist Concerned About AZ Providers

Behavioral health clinicians have direct contact with their clients in a trusted relationship.   Joe Frechen  is a psychiatrist who's been treating people for drug addiction and suicide prevention for 20 years in southern New Mexico.  He works on contract with many current providers and wants to continue that arrangement.

Frechen says he’s concerned that the patients he sees at clinics that have had their funding frozen won’t get what they need from out-of-state contractors hired by the Human Services Department.

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Local News
1:53 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

How About That Storm Thursday Night?

Lightning strikes in Albuquerque.
Credit Nathan Orona

I have always associated the word "monsoon" with India. Conversely, words like "arid" and "parched" I associate with the Southwestern United States, not just as descriptions, but as central facts about the regions.

These associations are incorrect.

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Local News
1:38 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Arizona Companies Prepare To Manage New Mexico Behavioral Health Providers

N.M. Legislative Finance Committee members listen as NMHSD Secretary Squier defended her suspension of Medicaid payments to 15 behavioral health providers.
Credit Bryant Furlow

When the New Mexico Human Services Department (NMHSD) announced last month it would suspend Medicaid payments to 15 behavioral health providers, Joe Frechen was worried.

For nearly 20 years, Frechen has worked as psychiatrist in Southern New Mexico with some of the most vulnerable patients in the region.

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Local News
5:42 am
Fri July 26, 2013

Local Provider Says Arizona Co. Not Certified For Specific Behavioral Health Services

Easter Seals El Mirador,  one of 15 providers recently audited and accused of fraud by the state's Human Services Department, provides behavioral health services to hundreds of children in New Mexico.

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Local News
8:24 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

State Auditor To Have Access To Behavioral Health Provider Audit

Credit publik15 via Flickr

UPDATE 7/25 8p: The attorney general's office says an agreement has been reached for State Auditor Hector Balderas to have access to an audit that identified potential overbillings and fraud by behavioral health providers.

Chief Deputy Attorney General Al Lama said Thursday a state district judge in Santa Fe has been asked to issue an order making clear the audit report will be protected from public disclosure once it's provided to Balderas.

The auditor and Human Services Department support the request.

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Local News
5:14 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

Navajo Nation To Take Over Gallup Detox Center

A client of Na'Nizhoozhi Center, Inc., better known as NCI, walks to the entrance where he will spend the night.
Credit Donovan Quintero

The largest detoxification center in New Mexico is scheduled to close and reopen under a new name and management: The Navajo Nation.

The Na'Nizhoozhi Center, Inc., served nearly 24,000 people in 2012 and averaged between 75 and 100 intakes per day.

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Poverty and Public Health
10:40 am
Wed July 24, 2013

Local Farmers Markets Help Reduce Obesity Rates

Vendors display fresh produce at the market
Deborah Martinez

Farmers markets are in full swing around New Mexico.  That’s good news for families with school-aged children. Childhood obesity rates are declining a bit across the state and around the nation.  What might be playing a role in the decrease?  We visited a northern New Mexico market to find out.

Business is bustling at the Española Farmers Market.

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Poverty and Public Health
8:35 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Sequestration Shuts Down NM Head Start Centers

Head Start programs serve kids up to age 5. Early childhood advocates say it prepares them for elementary school and beyond.
Credit Neighborhood Centers via Flickr

Children of low-income families who get free early education services in northern New Mexico will have to seek help elsewhere because two Head Start centers are closing as part of the the federal deficit cutting plan known as sequestration.  Presbyterian Medical Services, the nonprofit that gives a “head start” to hundreds of children before kindergarten, is feeling the pinch and cutting services.   

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Poverty and Public Health
4:06 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Federal Judge Takes Behavioral Health Case Under Advisement

Federal Judge M. Christina Armijo took up the case of behavioral health providers pleading for reinstatement of sanctioned Medicaid funding.
Credit Deborah Martinez

Fourteen Behavioral health providers in New Mexico hoping to have their Medicaid funding reinstated will have to wait at least another day, as the federal court judge asked to decide the issue has taken it under advisement.  

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Local News
2:15 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Residents In Northern NM Brace For Extreme Flooding

Credit Jared via Flickr

Recent rains have reduced the spread of New Mexico’s wildfires, but now residents living downstream of scar areas are bracing for flooding during the monsoon season.  

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Developing
8:29 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Mental Health Providers Plead For Restored Funding

Credit publik15 via Flickr

  

A hearing on the lawsuit  brought by eight behavioral health service providers against Governor Susana Martinez's administration is set for 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, July 17  in Federal District Court in Albuquerque.  The group is suing to have funding restored by the state and Human Services Cabinet Secretary Sidonie Squier.  Squier abruptly halted all funding for the providers several weeks ago in the wake of an audit the department says was necessary after reports of alleged fraud and misuse of Medicaid funding.

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Poverty and Public Health
2:56 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Health Department Surveys Santa Fe Hospital Staffing

It's business as usual as patients come and go at Santa Fe's Christus St. Vincent Hospital, but inside visitors from the New Mexico Department of Health are undertaking a site survey in response to a complaint by the union representing hundreds of hospital nurses.

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Poverty and Public Health
3:39 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Veterans, Lawmakers Push For Medical Marijuana For PTSD

Credit eggrole via Flickr

In New Mexico, thousands of veterans are living with post traumatic stress disorder.   Some of them are joining forces with elected officials to push for increased access to medical marijuana as a treatment for PTSD.

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Poverty and Public Health
3:05 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Number Of Overdose Deaths Among Women Continue To Climb

The figure above shows age-adjusted death rates for drug overdose deaths among women in the United States during 2009-2010.
Credit Centers for Disease Control

New data from the Centers For Disease Control conclude that nationally, overdose deaths among women have been on the rise since 1999; and that since 2007, more women have died from overdoses than motor vehicle-related injuries.

However, officials in New Mexico say those trends are nothing new in the state.

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Poverty and Public Health
5:45 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

Navajo Nation Declares Drought Emergency

Plants and dunes on the Navajo Nation.
Credit Margaret Hiza-Redsteer, USGS Flagstaff, AZ / USGS

Navajo President Ben Shelley has declared a state of emergency for drought conditions on the Navajo Nation. Officials are concerned ongoing drought may be creating unsafe conditions for people who need drinkable water.

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Poverty and Public Health
9:31 am
Tue July 2, 2013

Bernalillo County Minimum Wage Increases

Minimum wage workers in unincorporated areas of Bernalillo County got a raise on July 1st. 

The new county wage law that was passed in April raises the minimum wage from $7.50 and hour to $8.00 an hour for businesses outside Albuquerque city limits.  Commissioner Art De La Cruz, a democrat who represents parts of the west side and the south valley was the bill’s sponsor. He says its not a living wage, but that it will help the low paid workers and their communities.

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News Update
6:00 am
Tue July 2, 2013

New Mexico Workers' Compensation Laws May Exploit Dairy Workers

Credit New Mexico Center On Law And Poverty

The injury occurred on the job. A bull mounted a cow, and the worker was pinned against the stall. That led to a bloody and severe shoulder injury, surgery, and an inability to work.

“I went almost one month without work, and then after that, they called me back, but I was in no condition to work,” says this worker. He’s asked us not to use his name because it could jeopardize his ability to find future work in the small, New Mexico town of Portales.  “I would bleed at work, and that’s how they had me working at the dairy.”

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News Update
3:53 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

New Mexico Farmworkers May Be Victims Of Illegal Pay Practices

Credit New Mexico Center On Law And Poverty

You wake up at three in the morning. In El Paso. You board a bus, and spend the rest of your day herding livestock, picking chilies, or milking cows. Then, at the end of the day, you’re handed cash for your work, but it may not be enough.

“So if we work eight, nine, ten hours, they put down that we work less,” says an Agricultural worker who goes through this process on a regular basis. He’s asked not to use his real name for fear of retaliation. “For example, they don’t pay us for more than eight hours, so if you only get $40, they say that’s what you worked, eight hours.”

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Poverty and Public Health
5:00 am
Mon July 1, 2013

New Mexico Agricultural Survey Reveals Labor Abuses

New Mexico's agricultural workers face low pay, dangerous conditions, and have few laws to protect them from abuse. Those allegations are contained in a new report from the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty.

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Local News
9:13 am
Sat June 29, 2013

Governor Urges Caution As July 4th Nears

Governor Susana Martinez urges residents to attend public fireworks displays and heed fireworks bans.
Credit Deborah Martinez

Santa Fe skies are obscured by clouds and haze from area wildfires, but fire officials are reassuring residents that the smoky air does not pose immediate health risks for most people.

Several of the wildfires burning in New Mexico have been contained, but the Jaroso Fire northeast of Santa Fe is still raging uncontrolled.  Wind is pushing smoke into populated areas of the state, and that has residents concerned.

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Poverty and Public Health
11:01 am
Fri June 28, 2013

Report Shows Housing Becoming Costlier In New Mexico

The number of households that are paying more than 30 percent of their income in rent has gone up steadily since 2007.
Credit The State of the Nation's Housing 2013 Report

The economy is improving, according to a new housing report, but the number of households spending more than 30-percent of their income on housing higher than ever.

The State of the Nation's Housing report for 2013, published by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, says households that spend more than 30-percent of their income on housing are considered to be “cost-burdened.”

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