Public Health New Mexico

Public Health New Mexico
10:23 am
Tue February 25, 2014

NM Attorney General: Health Audit Appears To Have Mistakenly Flagged Claims

The audit the state used to justify suspending Medicaid payments to an Alamogordo health center last year appears to have included mistakenly flagged claims, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.

That raises questions about the process the Human Services Department (HSD) used to ensure the audit was accurate before deciding to suspend Medicaid dollars to the Alamogordo organization.

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Public Health New Mexico
2:50 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Navajo Nation President: Tax Junk Food

Credit jeffadair via Flickr

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly recently vetoed legislation that would increase taxes on junk food sold on the reservation but says he will support a new, tweaked version.

The bill would have added a two-percent tax to all junk food sold on the Navajo Nation, and was designed to encourage healthy eating habits while fighting problems like diabetes.

But how the tax will be collected, how business owners will be impacted, and what actually constitutes junk food all need to be hammered out before Shelly signs off, which he hopes will be this year.

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Public Health New Mexico
1:25 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Casualties: Public Health Bills That Didn’t Make It

Credit Patrick Feller // Compfight cc

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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Public Health New Mexico
4:40 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Survivors: Public Health Bills That Lived

Credit Wikimedia Commons: Jacob Lofman, PIX Incorporated, NYC, photographer

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.

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Local News
5:56 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Officials Confirm Nuclear Waste Leak

Credit Public domain image.

UPDATE 7:20p 02/21:

Department of Energy officials say radiation levels detected in and around the nation's only underground nuclear waste repository are consistent with a leak at the southeastern New Mexico facility.

Carlsbad field office manager Jose Franco said Thursday that readings from sensors above and below ground indicate the radiation is coming from waste stored at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. But officials won't know what caused the leak until they can get underground to investigate. That could be weeks.

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Public Health New Mexico
7:33 am
Thu February 20, 2014

What Is Public Health?

The 10 essential public health services.
Credit cdc.gov / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

KUNM Call In Show Thu. 2/20 8a:  What is public health?  Maybe the term makes you think of vaccinations or controlling and preventing diseases like diabetes and influenza.  But the field is much larger than that.  

Call 277-5866 in Albuquerque or toll-free 1-877-899-5866.

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Public Health New Mexico
4:51 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Lawmakers Ban Texting While Driving

Use of the cellphone while driving in order to send and receive text messages, or to navigate your route, raises the risk for an automobile accident dramatically.
Credit Centers for Disease Control

A bill that would prohibit texting while driving now heads to Governor Susana Martinez's desk for approval after clearing the legislature.

E-mail, instant messages and internet surfing all fall under the bills scope.

John McPhee is with New Mexico Department of Health. He says distracted driving is a growing problem across the country.

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Public Health New Mexico
3:55 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Disability Rights In The Roundhouse

By jena g. . Einar E. Kvaran aka 98.20.23.52 23:59, 1 June 2009, via Wikimedia Commons

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. 

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Public Health New Mexico
3:44 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Senate OKs Plan To Fund Rural Hospitals

Jim_K-Town via Compfight cc

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. 

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Public Health New Mexico
4:13 pm
Sat February 15, 2014

Health Guides Work To Convince Native Americans To Try Obamacare

Sonny Weahkee, a health guide working to sign Native Americans up for health insurance, demonstrates his outreach “rap” with coworkers outside the nonprofit’s headquarters in Albuquerque.
Credit Bryant Furlow / New Mexico In Depth

When he learns that signing up for Medicaid will mean he can visit a nearby hospital in Española instead of traveling to Santa Fe for urgent care, the Native American man sits back in his chair, eyebrows arched. Then he smiles.

“Cool! Oh that’s good,” the gray-haired, middle-aged man from Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo says.

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Public Health New Mexico
4:39 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Ineligible For Obamacare, Immigrants May Continue To Face Debt And Poor Health

Maria Cabrera listens to Kate O'Donnell explain the Presbyterian Hospital application process for financial assistance at Casa de Salud Family Medical Office. Cabrera has acquired medical debt beyond her ability to pay after suffering from a heart attack, and living with severe asthma. O'Donnell is a project coordinator who helps people with severe medical debt manage their accounts with hospitals and collection agencies.
Credit Natalia Jacquez

Maria Cabrera owed $57,000 dollars after she suffered a heart attack and ended up in an Albuquerque hospital.

“Once I was out of the hospital, I got completely in debt,” Cabrera said. “The debt was so large that I don’t even know what’s going on.”

A large amount of that debt was cut down through financial assistance, but she says the debt collectors are still calling, and she’s unclear of just how much she owes. 

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Public Health New Mexico
4:30 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Bill Would Expand PE To Include JROTC, Other Activities

Credit Albuquerque Public Schools

UPDATE Wednesday, Feb. 19, 10:59 p.m.: SB 122 passed the House and Senate.

Think physical education means just basketball or track?  Not necessarily, if lawmakers decide to change high school graduation rules and allow school districts to choose other activities to meet the PE requirement. That proposal received a unanimous “high five” from the Senate earlier this week.

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Public Health New Mexico
4:25 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Number Of Health Insurance Marketplace Sign-ups Continues To Rise

Trends in the Cumulative Number of Individuals Who Have Selected a Marketplace Plan, 10-1-13 to 2-1-14
Credit U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

According to new figures released by the U.S.

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Public Health New Mexico
10:35 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Those In The Obamacare 'Affordability Gap' Risk Futures In Medical Debt

Percentage of persons under age 65 in families having problems paying medical bills in the past 12 months, by poverty status and 6-month interval: United States, January 2011–June 2012
Credit CDC/NCHS

Meet Karla Castañeda. She’s 22, is a single mother, and recently went back to school. Her son is eligible for Medicaid, but she is not because she makes too much money, and her job doesn’t provide her with insurance. To get coverage, she turned to New Mexico’s insurance marketplace

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Public Health New Mexico
8:42 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Lawmakers Advance Ban On E-Cigarette Sales To Minors

  UPDATE Feb. 19, 2014, 10:10 a.m.: This measure was approved by the House and is awaiting a vote in the Senate.

  State lawmakers advanced a bill Thursday evening that would ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.  

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Local News
3:18 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Officials: Air In Underground Nuclear Waste Facility Is Safe, Fire Is Out

Transuranic waste being placed in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico.
Credit Department of Energy

UPDATE 5:30p 2/6: Work has resumed at southeastern New Mexico's nuclear waste repository. But officials say they don't yet know what caused the truck fire that forced an evacuation of the underground site.

A spokesman says an investigation will be conducted at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, where low level waste from the nation's nuclear weapons plants is stored in salt beds.

The site was evacuated and six people were treated for smoke inhalation after a truck hauling salt caught fire Wednesday.

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Public Health New Mexico
1:02 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Lawmakers Try to Address Physician Shortage

a.drian via Compfight cc

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.

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KUNM Call In Show
11:33 am
Fri January 31, 2014

2014 Legislature: So Little Time, So Many Public Health Bills

Credit puroticorico via Flickr

KUNM Call In Show Thu.

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Public Health New Mexico
1:58 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Breakdown Of 2014 Public Health Legislation

Credit Wiki Creative Commons

UPDATE Feb.

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Public Health New Mexico
11:41 am
Fri January 24, 2014

In New Mexico: Guilt, Fraud, Audits And Behavioral Health

On Jan. 16, the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office announced it had found “insufficient evidence to support allegations of fraud” against The Counseling Center in Alamagordo, N.M.

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Public Health New Mexico
11:39 am
Fri January 24, 2014

AG Releases New Portion Of Health Audit

A screenshot of a page from the portion of the Public Consulting Group audit that details findings for The Counseling Center in Alamogordo.

A state-hired auditor found $1,873 in questionable Medicaid payments to a health-care provider cleared of fraud last week by the state's top cop, according to a portion of the audit released Wednesday.

Using a statistical formula, the auditor then extrapolated from that $1,873 figure to come up with approximately $612,000 in potential Medicaid overpayments by The Counseling Center in Alamogordo, the document shows.

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Public Health New Mexico
8:39 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Southwest States Receive Low Grades For Tobacco Control Efforts

Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and affecting the health of smokers in general, as well as those inhaling “second hand” smoke.
Credit Debora Cartagena, CDC

According to the American Lung Association, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada and Texas all received Fs for their tobacco prevention efforts. That’s primarily because the states aren’t spending amounts recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.

Texas got the worst grades in the Southwest, including an F for smoke-free air and restrictions.

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Public Health New Mexico
3:42 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Most NM Enrollees Eligible For Health Insurance Discounts

New Mexicans sign up for Obamacare at an event in Taos
Credit Deborah Martinez

Almost 75 percent of the nearly 8,000 New Mexicans who have enrolled in insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act are eligible for discounts, according to numbers released by the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange Wednesday.  Officials are attributing the spike in the number of enrollees to the state’s multi-pronged advertising campaign.

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Public Health New Mexico
2:50 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Roswell Shooting Puts Focus On New Mexico Gun Violence

Between 2001 and 2010 2,392 people were killed by guns in New Mexico.
Credit Center For American Progress

On Tuesday, two students were flown to Lubbock, Texas, for medical treatment after a seventh-grade student at a Roswell middle school opened fire with a shotgun on a crowd in a gymnasium.

There is still no known motive for the shooting, and officials report the gunman stopped firing when a school staff member approached the student and asked him to put the gun down.

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Public Health New Mexico
4:52 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Feds Release New Data On Health Insurance Marketplace Sign-ups

Credit healthcare.gov

The federal government has released new data on the number of people signing up for health care plans on the health insurance marketplace, and there has been a significant uptick in marketplace activity as of December.

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Public Health New Mexico
5:05 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

New Mexico's Top 10 Public Health Stories In 2013

Photo Credit: SchuminWeb via Compfight cc

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

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Public Health New Mexico
3:15 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Chicken Soup For The Influenza-Riddled Soul

Credit Univ. of Melbourne - public domain

In California, at least eight people have died from the flu. In North Texas, 19 deaths.

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Public Health New Mexico
1:24 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

A Krokodil Ripped My Flesh

According to WOAI, the Drug Enforcement Agency has “experienced the first case of a Texan being treated for using a new type of drug which leaves the user with flesh lesions and turns the skin a scaly green color.”

The drug, known as Krokodil, has made headlines in the United States for months, but has only shown up in a few isolated incidents, like the one in Texas.

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Public Health New Mexico
4:57 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Native American Cancer Rates Remain Static

A map of age-adjusted death rates for Native Americans in New Mexico, 2006-2010.
Credit National Cancer Institute

New statistics released by the American Cancer Society show that nationally there's been a 20 percent decrease in risk of death from all cancers. For breast and colon cancer, that rate of decline is closer to 35 percent. However, in the Southwest, there's a slightly different picture.

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Public Health New Mexico
1:12 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Behavioral Health Chief Steps Down

Diana McWilliams

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. 

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