With drought affecting much of the southwest, the Navajo Nation is working to bring water to it's citizens with the tribal government recently approving over $8-million dollars for water infrastructure projects. The Navajo Nation is roughly the size of West Virginia, has a population of around 170,000 people, and much of the Nations citizens are in need of water.
In what's thought to be the first housing program of it's kind brought to a tribal community, the Pueblo of Zuni in western New Mexico has broken ground on a series of homes financed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The "Self-help housing" program works like this: the USDA gives your community a grant to finance housing, delivers supplies to build a home, provides blue prints, then - with the help of technical volunteers - oversees community members build their own homes.
Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Health Care Act is expected to bring in much needed dollars to the chronically underfunded Indian Health Service or IHS. But tribal health experts say the main game changer in Indian country will be new health insurance exchanges. For the first time ever, the IHS, a system traditionally open only to Native Americans, will be competing for non-Indian patients in order to survive. KUNM’s Tristan Ahtone reports.
The Star Wars films have been translated into at least 50 languages, but this will be the first time a major movie, Star Wars Episode IV will be dubbed into a North American indigenous language. The translation comes from a partnership between the Navajo Nation Museum, Navajo Parks and Recreation and Lucasfilm.
Manuelito Wheeler is the director of the Navajo Nation Museum and has been working to get the film translated for over three years. He hopes the movie will serve as a tool to preserve the language.
Obama’s proposed budget for Indian Health Services is up from FY 2012 by $124 million.. The White House’s focus on increased funding to IHS programs, it’s now up to congress to make a decision on the President’s budget.
Around 25-thousand Native Americans in New Mexico will become eligible for Medicaid when the Affordable Care Act goes into effect next year. The change translates to more money for the Indian Health Service. But as KUNM’s Poverty and Public Health Reporter Tristan Ahtone explains: in Albuquerque, Medicaid expansion will also force Native health providers to deal with something they’ve never faced before: competition from non-tribal health programs.
A legislative bill signed into law Friday by Governor Susana Martinez will help victims of human trafficking get cash, emergency housing and other assistance. The new law takes effect July 1 and it also provides benefits and services for victims like child care, legal, and food assistance. Representative Gail Chasey and the nonprofit New Mexico Women's Agenda worked to develop the bill.
The New Mexico Department of Health reports that the distribution of Narcan is yielding promising results.
Often distributed through syringe exchange programs, Narcan works by causing the body to begin immediate withdrawal from heroin or prescription opioids, essentially reversing an overdose.
Brad Wharton, a drug epidemiologist with the New Mexico Department of Health, says in 2010 and 2011, with Narcan, Santa Fe County saw 12 overdose reversals and 19 heroin deaths; Bernalillo County, 96 overdose reversals and 77 heroin deaths; while in Rio Arriba County:
A dry winter, strong winds, and above average temperatures have caused the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declared much of the state to be in a drought emergency. Jeff Witte with the New Mexico Department of Agriculture says that farmers with the ability to pump groundwater will be able to plant some crops this year. However, Witte says he's optimistic that farmers and ranchers in New Mexico will be able to continue providing viable crops to the state
A report released Wednesday from the Center for American Progress, ranks New Mexico the 10th worst state in the nation for gun deaths.
The report, called "America Under The Gun," puts New Mexico's gun-death rate, 40% higher than the national average, and looked at 10 key indicators like homicide, firearm violence against women, as well violence against law enforcement officials.
This week, the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department convened a Bed Bug Conference to educate the public on bed bug basics: how to identify an infestation, how to treat it, and most importantly, how to prevent an infestation in the first place. KUNM's Poverty and Public Health reporter Tristan Ahtone went with Rita Daniels to learn about the bugs, and spread the message.
Nambe Pueblo and Taos County Economic Development Corporation are two of ten organizations nationally that have received funding for Native food-systems projects. The projects could bolster economic development while combating food insecurity, health and nutrition disparities in tribal communities.
The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority says it's in the final phases of unveiling high-speed broadband and wireless services for the majority of the Navajo Nation. The project would bring telecommunications services to the nations largest reservation straddling Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.
A few companies have offered broadband accessibility to parts of the Navajo Nation in the past, however, historically, the Nation has dealt with little to no telecommunications access.
According to the 2012 Childhood Obesity Update, nearly 15% of kindergarten students and 22% of third graders are obese.
It's the third year data has been collected, and New Mexico's numbers appear to be leveling off, which is consistent with national trends. However, access to healthy food and adopting healthy behaviors, remain a significant problem for the state, especially in rural and frontier areas.
A lack of funding for the Federal Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) has caused New Mexico and other states to suspend enrollment in the plan for the rest of Fiscal Year 2013. Nationally, the PCIP program was budgeted at about 5-billion dollars for 2013, but has now run over budget resulting in the suspension of new applicants.
Approximately 2,000 New Mexicans are currently enrolled in PCIP, which serves people with pre-existing conditions that prevent them from obtaining health insurance through standard outlets.
Mental Health professionals at UNM hospital have introduced a new mental illness program. The Early Assessment and Resource Linkage for Youth, or EARLY is focused on early intervention. It's part of a national, ongoing study looking to curb psychosis, which they say is a threat to young adults and their communities.
With the possibility of sequestration two weeks away, the Indian Health Services says they could be facing large cuts to program funding. Those cuts could be disastrous for the Indian Health Service which is already dealing with a massively underfunded budget.
A bill that would allow Medicaid eligible tribal citizens in New Mexico to opt-out of the states Medicaid plan, Centennial Care, has taken it’s first steps in the legislature. HB 376, which gives Native Americans the ability to opt-out of Centennial Care has passed out of committee.
Under the states proposed Medicaid program entitled Centennial Care, all Medicaid enrollees in the state would be required to enroll in one of four managed care organizations (MCO) to receive healthcare.
For New Mexico’s tribal population, this proposal is causing problems.
During the annual State of Indian Nations address today, National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) President Jefferson Keel called on Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) with tribal provisions - which have been one of the primary sticking points for House Republicans.
Citing safety concerns of tribal citizens, NCAI President Jefferson Keel said one in three Native women will be raped in their lifetime; four in ten will be abused by their partner; and that Native women are murdered at rates nearly 10 times the national average.
The New Mexico Department of Health reports two children have died from flu in the state in the past month, bringing the number of influenza related deaths in New Mexico to 89 since the beginning of the flu season.
Dr. Chad Smelser is an epidemiologist with the Department of Health. He says the number of deaths this year is somewhat elevated in comparison to previous years.
There’s been lots of talk about economic recovery lately, but there’s no good news on the jobs front in New Mexico. Again and again, the business community pushes for corporate income tax cuts and job creation credits. But there’s no evidence that either does anything but drain the treasury. So far, we’ve been kissing out tax revenue goodbye, along with the jobs that Hewlett Packard moved to Mexico and the 200 we lost when Schott Solar shut down.
The momentum is picking up for legislation that would tighten background checks on gun sales, and it could be brought to the floor of the House this week. The compromise bill has some Republican lawmakers' and the governor's support.
Albuquerque Representative Miguel P. Garcia is the sponsor of the bill which mandates background checks at gun shows and removes the provision to have the Department of Public Safety handle the checks. Instead the onus would be placed on the gun seller to get approval of the sale.
District 1 Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, says the impending sequestration crisis will hurt New Mexico’s economy. The Democrat was in Albuquerque today to meet with defense contractors and local business leaders.
On March 1st, the automatic cuts, known as sequestration, will take effect. Congress postponed them to March 1 as part of the “fiscal cliff” deal at the beginning of January.
Lujan Grisham says the spending cuts are across the board with no regard to what’s working and what’s not.
Navajo Nation officials say they are on their way toward managing their own federally funded Medicaid program.
The Farmington Daily Times reports that the nation began looking into creating its own Medicaid program about five years ago because of issues some members had with other health care programs available in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.
Navajo officials are optimistic that the tribe can sustain its own Medicaid program, even though a feasibility study wasn't as optimistic.
The New Mexico Human Services Department has announced the selection of four, new Centennial Care Managed Care Organizations responsible for providing healthcare to nearly 600,000 New Mexicans.
Medicaid is the public health insurance program for low-income people which currently serves about 560,000 New Mexicans, and will expand to include about 170,000 more come 2014. Centennial Care is the new name for New Mexico’s Medicaid program.
New Mexico's homeless programs that help people get a fresh start could get a funding boost if a legislative bill wins approval in Santa Fe.
Senate Bill 50 is sponsored by Albuquerque Republican Sander Rue. He says as a member of the Mortgage Finance Authority interim committee, he wanted to do something to help homeless people and families hit hard by the recession.
New Mexico's congressional delegation has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Education hoping to avoid a punitive reduction in Special Education funds to the state. Officials say that the Feds could penalize the state close to 43 million dollars unless New Mexico is granted a waiver by the USDE.
The State needs the waivers because it slashed its portion of special education spending below the amount required to receive federal supplemental funding in 2010 and '11.