Public Health New Mexico

Public Health New Mexico
11:24 am
Mon December 2, 2013

The Case Of New Mexico's Altered Audit

A page from the redacted audit documents released earlier this year.

It's been almost six months since the New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) froze Medicaid payments to mental health providers in the state due to a "credible allegation of fraud."

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
3:41 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

State Auditor: Behavioral Health Audit Report Had Crucial Language Removed

A page from the redacted PCG audit report released earlier this year.

Over the summer, the New Mexico Human Services Department froze Medicaid payments to a dozen mental health providers due to allegations of fraud.

The basis for those allegations: an audit conducted by an out-of-state company called PCG. That audit was never seen by the public or even by those accused of fraud. 

But in October, a heavily redacted version was released, and in it, PCG said it did not uncover what it would consider to be credible allegations of fraud. 

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
4:38 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Should NM Legislature Tax, Regulate E-Cigarettes?

Various e-cigarettes
Credit Wikipedia

E-cigarettes – those pen-like nicotine dispensers people inhale without the smoke – are posing challenges for governments trying to reduce the number of people who take up smoking.  Today a Legislative panel that oversees spending of a tobacco-settlement fund discussed whether to regulate e-cigarettes in the same way as the traditional kind.

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
3:00 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Vaccinations Survey Reveals Personal Reasons For Exemptions

Credit Univ. of Melbourne - public domain

Most parents asking for an exemption to mandatory vaccinations in New Mexico schools were anglo, according to a survey done by the state Department of Health. 

The survey reveals details behind the exemptions. 

Most New Mexico parents cited religious beliefs in order to get an exemption for a child, believing it’s better to develop immunity to diseases naturally by contracting the illness. 

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
2:29 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Smoking Rates During Pregnancy Highest Among Native Americans

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

Native Americans have the highest rates of smoking before, during and after pregnancy than any other ethnic group in the nation. That’s according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control.

According to the CDC, 55 percent of Native American women smoked before pregnancy. During pregnancy, that rate dropped significantly to 26 percent. However, that rate was still the highest of any racial or ethnic group in the nation.

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
4:40 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Judge To Hear Behavioral Health Audit Lawsuits This Week

Public Consulting Group's audit was heavily redacted before release
Credit audit screen shot

The audit that led the Martinez administration to freeze Medicaid funding for more than a dozen behavioral health non-profits in New Mexico is at the center of a hearing Tuesday in Santa Fe.  

The Foundation for Open Government sued state government after state officials released a heavily redacted audit to media.  FOG attorneys claim the report is “too important to the citizens of New Mexico to be kept form public view.”  The open government group asked in its lawsuit for for the audit to be released in its entirety.

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
7:14 am
Fri November 15, 2013

AG’s Argument For Secrecy Is ‘Terrifying,’ News Orgs Say

Credit Rrrodrigo via Flickr

Because it isn’t a law enforcement agency, the N.M. Human Services Department can’t justify keeping an audit of 15 health providers secret using the law enforcement exception to a state sunshine law, two news organizations suing for release of the audit say.

 

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
11:20 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Whooping Cough Cases Prompt Officials To Push Vaccinations

Credit Centers for Disease Control

State health officials are urging parents to get their teenagers immunized in the wake of a whooping cough outbreak at a northeast Albuquerque high school.

Even if teens had the pertussis vaccination early on, they need to get boosters to prevent infection and transmission of the highly contagious illness.

Dr. Chad Smelser is an epidemiologist with the New Mexico Department of Health. He said teens need the booster because, over time, immunity fades.

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
2:37 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Mobile Food Truck Drives Down Diabetes, Obesity On NM's Pueblos

Locals shop at MoGro truck
SF Community Foundation

People who don’t have a grocery store nearby are often left to settle for fast food choices that are less healthy.  But a mobile food truck stocked with everything from chia seeds to collard greens is ensuring that rural residents have a leg up on better nutrition.  

In response to New Mexico’s high poverty and food insecurity rates, and growing numbers of diabetes and obesity problems, Sysco Foods’ CEO began MoGro –a mobile grocery store that has been visiting five New Mexico pueblos since January of this year.

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
8:39 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

In The Southwest, Nearly 60 Percent Of Health Exchange Users Would See Tax Credits

It's estimated that 7.4 million people in the southwest will be buying insurance on their own under the Affordable Care Act. Approximately 60 percent of those purchasers will be eligible for help with their insurance bill in the form of tax credits next year.

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
3:31 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Despite Promises, Arizona Behavioral Health Cos. Cut Patient Services

Valle del Sol logo as listed on its website.
Credit Valle del Sol

This summer five Arizona companies took over a dozen New Mexico mental health agencies accused of Medicaid fraud. Clients were assured that there would be no disruptions in their care.  But those assurances are withering at five key sites.

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
12:57 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

In New Mexico, Heroin Use Continues To Fuel Crime, Overdoses

"[Drugs are] like domestic violence. It’s not going to go away," says New Mexico District Attorney Kari Brandenburg. "All we can do is the best that we can do one day at a time."
Credit Drug Enforcement Administration

Heroin is the reigning king of drugs in New Mexico. From overdoses to prosecutions, heroin is wreaking havoc, and to make matters worse, it’s cheaper, purer, and easier to buy than ever.

New Mexico District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said prosecutions of heroin trafficking and possession in the state have surpassed other drugs like cocaine and meth.

Conversely, the use of prescription opiates are down.

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
10:41 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Woman In Santa Fe Dies From Hantavirus

The New Mexico Department of Heath has announced that a woman in Santa Fe has died from Hantavirus. It’s the second reported case in the state this year

Preliminary investigations indicate that the Hantavirus was acquired locally, likely within the woman’s home. But the Department of Health says it will also be performing an investigation at the patient’s house to make sure there's no risk to others. The woman’s identity has not yet been released.

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
5:03 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

LANL Scientists Announce Breakthrough In Development Of HIV Vaccine

Credit Centers For Disease Control

A team of scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory are reporting a breakthrough in the effort to develop an HIV vaccine. The research used what’s called a mosaic vaccine, which showed some test animals had protection when exposed to the infection.

The study, which was conducted on 36 monkeys, has provided new insight into vaccines that could eventually protect humans from infection. 

LANL scientist Bette Korber said that a mosaic vaccine, unlike traditional vaccines, is designed to respond to the large variety of HIV viruses that exist.  

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
1:51 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

63,000 New Mexicans To Transition Health Plans Under ACA

Under the Affordable Care Act, around 63,000 New Mexicans will need to buy new health insurance policies by the end of the year. Those plans could cost more and cover more.

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
5:30 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

In Albuquerque, Human Trafficking Evolves And Grows

A recent study claims that nearly 30-­million people on the planet live in slavery-­ a practice that relies on the trafficking of human beings. The majority of victims are found in places like India, Thailand and Russia. Human trafficking is also a growing problem in the Southwestern United States, and the black market trade is growing in New Mexico.

It was a bad night, and none of the girls had made much cash. The evening's customers were more interested in the Spurs game on television then the strippers. But one of the dancers knew how they could make up for it.

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
2:35 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

New Mexico Leads Nation In Per Capita Mental Illness

A new federal report ranks New Mexico as the state with the highest percentage of citizens with mental illness. But the 416-page survey also reveals states in the Southwest are above average in many areas like access to mental health services.

The purpose of the Behavioral Health 2012 report is to look at where states stand in relation to national averages. The hope is for policy makers to examine areas of the mental health system that need help.

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
1:22 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

NM's Human Trafficking Laws Speed Up Prosecutions, Help For Victims

Credit Life Link of Santa Fe

Five years ago victims of human trafficking had no legal remedies under New Mexico’s laws.  But in 2008 a new statute provided prosecutors with tools to help victims and bring the traffickers to justice.  And the state was years ahead of 39 other states that only began to pass laws this year, according to the Polaris Project.   

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
11:58 am
Wed October 30, 2013

AG: Audit release would hamper probe, ‘fatally undermine’ law

The state can withhold an audit of 15 health providers under investigation for potential Medicaid fraud because such secrecy is necessary to protect the criminal probe, the Attorney General’s Office says.

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
11:54 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Audit: NM Sexual Assault Programs Not In Compliance

An audit conducted by the Department of Justice says the New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs failed to comply with essential grant conditions when handling about $4-million dollars in federal awards over the last six years. 

According to the audit by the Office of Inspector General Audit Division (OIG), there were conflicts of interest when hiring; questionable payroll costs; and inadequate monitoring of contracts, sub-grantees and timesheets, to name a few of the findings.

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
10:47 am
Wed October 30, 2013

No Matter How Much You Spend On Football Equipment, Concussion Risk Still The Same: Study

No matter what kind of football helmet you buy for your teenager, the risk of concussion is still the same. That's according to a new study that looked to examine the relationship between concussion risk and equipment used to prevent injury.

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
5:05 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Secrecy Surrounds Fraud Allegations In New Mexico Mental Health Audit

Many pages of the behavioral health audit were partially or fully redacted.

In June, New Mexico’s Behavioral Health care system was thrown into chaos — the state abruptly froze Medicaid payments to more than a dozen mental health providers in the state after an audit allegedly found widespread

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
9:10 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Despite Progress, NM Teen Pregnancy Rate Still Tops Charts

Karla Aguirre prepares to bathe her son Harley at a parenting class
Deborah Martinez

New Mexico’s teen pregnancy rate is declining – down 41 percent between 1998 and 2011 – but the state still has the second highest rate in the nation behind Mississippi.  High poverty and high drop out rates play a big part.  But a Santa Fe high school program that’s helping teens earn their diplomas while overcoming the challenges of parenthood is making a dent in the stark statistics.

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
5:44 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Partial Release Of New Mexico Mental Health Audit Raises Questions

Many pages of the behavioral health audit were partially or fully redacted.

This summer, the State of New Mexico froze Medicaid payments to mental health providers because of fraud allegations.

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
9:23 am
Sat October 19, 2013

New Portion Of Audit Released; Hundreds Of Pages Still Secret

Many pages of the audit released by the state Attorney General's office were partially or fully redacted. The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government posted the full document online. http://nmfog.org/uploads/PressRelease/cf6b22f5312b412198762483474b1435/PCG_Redacted_Audit_Report.pdf

A portion of an audit released Friday by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office with many details blacked out shed little light on why the state froze Medicaid payments to 15 New Mexico behavioral health providers.

At the same time, the 58-page document raised tantalizing questions.

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
3:35 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Researcher Aims To End Cycle Of Hurtful Behavior In Kids

Credit HeyPaulStudios via Flickr

New research is taking a look at how childhood trauma can alter the development of the brain, sometimes with lasting effects  that can carry into adulthood.   Dr. Elaine Bearer’s work looks at ways to stop the cycle of kids “acting out” before they grow up.

University of New Mexico Professor  Elaine Bearer’s research on mice suggests early childhood trauma might interfere with normal changes in the brains of children.   She and her team are also studying the stress a premature baby endures.

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
10:42 am
Thu October 10, 2013

Exemption To ACA Could Leave Many Native Americans Uninsured

IHS Albuquerque Area Headquarters
Credit Indian Health Service

In June, Deleana Other Bull was laid off. She lost her insurance, and turned to the Indian Health Service for her needs.

I recently had a miscarriage, and it was very devastating for me,” said Other Bull. “Going and following up and making sure that everything is okay. It was really scary because I didn’t have insurance.”

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
3:07 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

Native Americans At Higher Risk For Flu Complications

An Educational Poster On Seasonal Flu Specifically Targeting Native Americans
Credit Centers for Disease Control

Health Departments in the Southwest are beginning to see some of the first flu cases of the season. Officials warn there are many populations at higher risk for health complications for the flu.

One high-risk group is Native Americans. However, the reason why isn’t fully understood.

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
4:14 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Too Many Teeth, Not Enough Dentists: Dental Care Shortage In NM

A dentist examines an x-ray showing a broken root or failed root canal.
Credit Wonderlane via Flickr

KUNM Call In Show Thu. 10/10 8a: New Mexico has historically had a shortage of dental care providers, especially in rural parts of the state and in low income communities. 

Read more
Public Health New Mexico
6:01 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Managed Care Organizations Look To Cash In On Native American Patients

State Human Service Department officials present information about the Centennial Care program to members of the Navajo Nation's Shiprock Chapter.
Credit Tristan Ahtone

Hate it or love it, the Affordable Health Care Act is set to roll out soon. And as most already know, the act requires nearly all citizens to obtain health insurance or face penalties. But some of those exempted from the mandate are Native Americans. That hasn’t deterred private insurance companies from launching a campaign in Indian Country to sign up tribal members in New Mexico.

On a cool, Saturday afternoon on the Navajo Nation a crowd of tribal members are lined up at a row of folding tables staffed by insurance company representatives that speak English.

Read more

Pages