Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Important Legislative Meetings This Week on Health Care Reform

From the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign:
The Interim Legislative Health and Human Services Committee is scheduled to meet in Española and Santa Fe this week and in Las Cruces the following week.

The Health and Human Services Committee will be discussing the recommendations of the Health Coverage for New Mexicans Committee (the committee that commissioned the Mathematica study). The Health Coverage committee did not recommend implementing any of the three models studied, and its recommendations preserve the private insurance system. If you would like a copy of the Health Coverage committee's recommendations, please contact Josette (see below).

Wednesday, October 17, 10:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Conference Room, Northern New Mexico Community College
--Public comment at 1:30 PM

Santa Fe
Thursday, October 18, 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Friday, October 19, 9:00 AM - 3:30 PM
Room 321, State Capitol
--Public comment on Thursday at 1:30 PM and 2:30 PM
--Public comment on Friday at 9:45 AM and 1:00 PM

Public comment is arranged around various topics during these three days. Please take a look at the agenda for these meetings.

Las Cruces
Monday, October 22
We do not have any further details on the Las Cruces meeting at this time. We will pass them along as soon as they are available.

It is really critical that those of you in the Española, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces areas attend these meetings and share your support of the Health Security Act with the committee!

Share Your Support of the Health Security Act with Your Community
Public forums on health care continue to be held around the state. The forums include a presentation on the results of the Mathematica study and allow time for public comment on the models studied and the direction of health care reform in New Mexico. The forums are sponsored by Health Care for All, with other organizations. (Please note that Health Care for All does not support the Health Security Act or either of the other two models studied.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2:00 PM and 6:00 PM
CAPPED, Inc., 907 New York Ave.

If you live in the Alamogordo area, please plan to attend this forum and speak up in support of the Health Security Act. This is a great way to educate your community about the Health Security Act!

If you have any questions, contact Josette at 505-771-8763 or jhaddad@cableone.net.

October 16, 2007 at 08:45 AM in Healthcare, NM Legislature 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tomorrow's Meetup: Special Guest NM State Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino

Our monthly Albuquerque DFA-DFNM Meetup is set for Thursday, September 6th at 7:00 PM at the Social Hall of the First Unitarian Church at Carlisle and Comanche. To RSVP or join our group and email list, click here.

Ortizypino_2Our special guest will be State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino, one of the progressive stalwarts in the New Mexico Legislature. Sen. Ortiz y Pino was a primary sponsor of resolutions urging the Congress to impeach Cheney and Bush and immediately bring our troops home from Iraq, as well as bills to establish a Department of Peace and create a working families tax credit. He's been a strong supporter of legislation needed in the areas of social welfare, at-risk youth, health, vets, education and many other core Democratic issues.

Now's our chance to thank him for his service, get his analysis of last year's Legislative Session and learn what's coming up at the January 2008 session. He'll also answer questions from the audience. More background on the Senator:

Sen. Ortiz y Pino was elected to represent State Senate District 12 (most of downtown Albuquerque and surrounding neighborhoods) in 2004, after retiring from a career in state and local government in a variety of social service posts. In 2004, he also started work at HELP-NM as director of the family services division. Since 2001, he's written a regular newspaper column on political and social issues for the Weekly Alibi.

He's worked throughout New Mexico but spent the past 28 years in Albuquerque. His interests broadened over the years from an initial focus on mental health and children's protective services to work in child and family advocacy, substance abuse, positive youth development and early childhood programming.

With two other social workers, he helped found a private adoption and foster care agency called La Familia in 1984 and co-founded a Charter High School for dropouts in Albuquerque in 2000 -- the Robert F. Kennedy Charter High School. He also helped found Los Puentes and Cesar Chavez Charter High Schools in Albuquerque and Cesar Chavez in Deming. All primarily serve adolescents who have left mainstream high schools.

Sen. Ortiz y Pino has a BA in Latin American Studies from the University of New Mexico and a Master's in Social Work from Tulane University.

September 5, 2007 at 10:59 AM in DFNM - Albq, MeetUp, NM Legislature 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

PARTICIPATE: More NM Healthcare Community Forums Scheduled

Community forums to discuss healthcare reform in New Mexico were held in many parts of New Mexico this summer. Scheduled events continue from now through October. This is your chance to hear first hand about the results of Mathematica's study on reform options and to speak up about what you'd like healthcare reform legislation to look like when it's taken up in the NM Legislature.

From the NM Human Needs Coordinating Council:
Community Forums: Achieving Healthcare for All, September-October 2007 - Statewide Cosponsors: Health Care for All Campaign, New Mexico Voices for Children, League of Women Voters NM, AARP, New Mexico Conference of Churches, New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness, Health Action New Mexico, NM Public Health Association, NM Human Needs Coordinating Council, Con Alma Health Foundation, National , Association of Social Workers-NM, CWA.

Upcoming forums:

Eddy County
Date: Monday, September 10, 5:30-7:30 PM

  • Location: NMSU-Carlsbad, Room 101, 1500 University Drive, Carlsbad
  • Sponsors: Eddy County Community Health Council and NMSU
  • Local Contact: Candace Autry, cautry@CO.EDDY.NM.US, 505-887-9511

Grant, Catron, Luna and Hildago County/ Silver City
Date: Tuesday, September 11, 6-8:00 PM

  • Location: Bayard Community Center, 290 Hurley Avenue, Bayard (about 10 miles from SC)
  • Lead Sponsor: SW Council of Governments
  • Local Contact: Gloria Terrazas, SW New Mexico Council of Governments, 505.388.1509, gterrazas@gilanet.com

Santa Fe County
Date: Tuesday, September 18, 10 AM-12 PM, 5:30-7:30 PM

  • Locations/address:
    • (10 AM-12 PM) Forum Building at College of Santa Fe Campus, 1600 St. Michael’s Drive, SF
    • (5:30-7:30 PM) Santa Fe County Courthouse/BCC Chambers, 2nd floor, 102 Grant Street, SF
  • Cosponsors: Santa Fe County HHS Department, League of Women Voters, Results-Santa Fe CWA Local 7076
  • Local Contact: Steve Shepard, Santa Fe County, 505.992.9840 sshepher@co.santa-fe.nm.us

Chaves County/Roswell
Date: Thursday, September 20, 2-4:00 PM

Los Alamos County
Date: Thursday, September 20, 7-9:00 PM

  • Location: Fuller Lodge, 2132 Central Ave, Los Alamos
  • Sponsors: League of Women Voters-Los Alamos, Los Alamos Community Health Care Roundtable
  • Local Contact: Chris Chandler, 505.662.5900, cchandler@cybermesa.com

Torrance County--Moriarty
Date: Wednesday, October 3, 12-2:00 PM

  • Location: Teen Center/ Moriarty
  • Sponsors: The Partnership for a Healthy Torrance County (Torrance Health Council)
  • Local Contact: Billie Clark, Program Manager, Torrance County Project Office 505.832.0332, pmanager@lobo.net

Valencia County:
Date: Wednesday, October 3rd, 5:30-8:00 PM

McKinley County
Date: Thursday, October 4, 6:30-8:30 PM (time pending)

  • Location: UNM-Gallup/ Calvin Hall Auditorium, 200 College Drive, Gallup
  • Sponsor: McKinley County Health Alliance
  • Local Contact: Ophelia Reeder, 505-863-5107, McKinley County Health Alliance, Ophelia_reeder@pmsnet.org ­

­Otero County/ Alamogordo
Date: Wednesday, October 24, 2 PM and 6 PM

  • Location: 907 New York Ave., Alamogordo
  • Sponsor: CAPPED, Inc.
  • Local Contact: Tresa VanWinkle, RN, Executive Director CAPPED, Inc., tresa@capped.org
    PH: (505) 434-HOPE (4673), FAX: (505) 434-1177

For more information on the health care reform issue and scheduled events visit Health Action New Mexico.

September 4, 2007 at 09:57 AM in Events, Healthcare, NM Legislature 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Public Meetings This Week: Speak Up On NM Health Care Reform

From the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign:
Speak Up in Your Community! Public forums (sponsored by Health Care for All, with other organizations) are being held around the state to discuss the results of the Mathematica study and the direction of health care reform in New Mexico.

Below are the forums taking place in the next two weeks.

  • Taos County, Wednesday, August 22 (Taos Convention Center, Rio Grande Hall, 120 Civic Plaza Drive, Taos), 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Sandoval County, Thursday, August 23 (Meadowlark Senior Center, 4330 Meadowlark Lane, Rio Rancho), 7:00- 8:30 PM
  • San Miguel County, Tuesday, August 28 (Luna Community College, 366 Luna Drive, Las Vegas), 4:00-6:00 PM

September forums are currently scheduled for Carlsbad, Bayard, Santa Fe, Roswell, and Los Alamos. We'll keep you posted.

Here's Your Chance to Influence the Interim Legislative Committee: The Interim Legislative Health and Human Services Committee is also holding meetings this week. The meetings focus on the study and the path New Mexico should follow in regard to health care reform. Presentations on the results of the Mathematica study will be made on Wednesday, August 22, and Thursday, August 23. You can check out the agenda for the Zuni and Gallup meetings here.

  • Zuni: The Interim Health and Human Services Committee will meet at 1:00 PM on Wednesday, August 22, in Zuni at the UNM Gallup/Zuni Campus, Room 102. Public comment is scheduled for 5:20 PM.
  • Gallup: The committee will meet on Thursday and Friday, August 23 and 24, in Gallup at UNM Gallup, Gurley Hall, Room 205/207. Thursday's meeting begins at 10:30 AM, with public comment scheduled for 5:15 PM. Friday's meeting begins at 9:00 AM.

September interim committee meetings are tentatively scheduled for Hobbs and Roswell. We'll let you know more when the committee schedule is firm.

Please Make a Point of Attending the Forums and Interim Committee Meetings in Your Area: It is very important that those of you who live in these communities attend and make the forum organizers and the interim committee members aware of your support for the Health Security Act.

Here are some possible talking points.

  • The Mathematica study clearly indicates that the Health Security Act is the only proposal that reduces health care costs and covers everyone. Only the Health Security Act costs less than the current system. It is the only model that saves money. Even after five years of operation, the other two models still cost more than the current system.
  • Taxpayer dollars have been spent on a study, which is being ignored.
  • This is the second time that a New Mexico study has concluded that including all or most New Mexicans in one health risk pool will save hundreds of millions of dollars. (The first was in 1994.)
  • Solutions that rely on the private insurance system are not acceptable.
  • The Health Security Act has had input from thousands of New Mexicans over the years. The Act is supported by 128 organizations and 26 counties and cities. It is the only proposal with public support.
  • It is time to pass the Health Security Act (explain why you support it).

If you want us to send you a copy of the Mathematica study's results, contact Josette (see below). Let us know what happens at the meetings you are able to attend. Your feedback is always important to us.

Contacting the Governor: Governor Richardson has publicly stated that he does not like any of the models that were studied by his Health Coverage for New Mexicans Committee and that he is committed to a system where private insurers play a dominant role. Despite the study's conclusion that the Health Security Act would save New Mexico hundreds of millions of dollars, the Act does not have the Governor's support.

Please contact Governor Richardson and ask him to support the Health Security Act. His office can be reached at 505-476-2200. If you prefer to write him a letter, his mailing address is Office of the Governor, 490 Old Santa Fe Trail, Room 400, Santa Fe, NM 87501. You can also email him through his website.

If you have any questions, contact Josette at 505-771-8763 or jhaddad@cableone.net.

August 21, 2007 at 07:00 AM in Events, Healthcare, Local Politics, NM Legislature 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Citizens Restless About Real Health Care Reform

Jerry Ortiz y Pino has an excellent column in last week's alibi about the recent community forum in Albuquerque on NM health care reform sponsored by Health Care for All -- and about Gov. Bill Richardson's stance on reform. I highly recommend you read the whole thing, but here's an excerpt:

... the event did have an emotional highlight. It came when a speaker cautioned those in attendance that the prospects for true reform of our health care system were dimmed significantly by a pronouncement from Gov. Richardson that he would never approve any measure that didn’t include a role for private insurance. The chorus of boos, hisses and angry shouts that greeted this statement was immediate and deafening.

Speculation afterward on why Richardson would have made such an unpopular public statement at a point in the process far, far before he needed to take any position on it at all (to say nothing about it also being in the midst of an uphill campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination) ranged from the cynical to the outright libelous.

Clearly, it is a stance he might want to reconsider, as no other issue likely to come up in the campaign would be as effective in propelling him up into the top tier of racehorses as would an enthusiastic endorsement of single-payer health care.

... But our governor is quoted by his health care advisor, Michelle Welby, as believing that the 80 percent of New Mexicans who have health coverage are “happy with the current system,” so he won't likely want to end the blood leech role played in our current health financing system by our legion of private insurers.

That is, unless he begins to listen to the thousands who have coverage but who are desperately unhappy with it--citizens like Pam Parker, a businesswoman in Taos, who tearfully detailed for a Legislative Committee last week how her eight-year struggle with breast cancer has left her family financially devastated because her insurer raises the premiums and deductibles annually so that she now pays $1,500 a month … for a policy with a $5,000 deductible. She doesn’t dare switch as her health history makes her essentially uninsurable by any company other than the one she has now.

... The War over Health Care will soon be bigger news than the War in Iraq. Gov. Richardson needs to switch sides. [emphasis mine]

I couldn't agree more.

Make Your Views Known
Right now, Gov. Richardson's presidential campaign website is soliciting questions from the public in a sort of continuation of the recent CNN-YouTube Dem presidential forum. Click here to submit a comment or question about why he has said he won't support a health care reform plan that doesn't preserve a strong role for insurers. If we want an affordable universal health care plan here and nationally, we need to be relentless in pushing for a single-payer type plan (like the NM Health Security Act) that removes the number one cause of rising health care costs -- the for-profit brokers and insurers.

The NM Legislature will take up health care reform at the 30-day session in January, and the Interim Health and Human Services committee is meeting now in various parts of the state to discuss the issue. Contact members of the committee and your legislators and let them know where you stand.

Sign up here with What If You Knew, to stay current on what's happening at the grassroots level to advocate for an effective universal care plan. Join the Health Action NM alert list to get news on Health Care for All New Mexicans activities.

Click here to get the facts on why single-payer universal coverage is the only effective way to cover everyone while keeping costs down -- in a detailed article by none other than noted economist and New York Times journalist Paul Krugman.

Health Care Reform Community Forums
Health Care for All has held two recent, heavily attended health care town halls in Albuquerque and Las Cruces. Such community forums on health care reform in NM will be held in many other parts of the state. In August, town halls are scheduled for Farmington, Taos and Las Vegas, NM, with more on the way. Click here for Health Care for All's calendar of events for more info, and pledge to attend and express yourself at a forum in your area.

August 3, 2007 at 12:10 PM in 2008 Presidential Primary, Corporatism, Healthcare, Local Politics, NM Legislature 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, July 27, 2007

(Updated) Gov. Richardson Criticizes Desert Rock Power Plant

UPDATE 6:38 PM: The complete statement by Gov. Bill Richardson about the proposed Desert Rock Power Plant is now available. Click here.

"Woman in Gas Mask" (Credit: Small Axe Organization)

According to an article (also see audio-visual) in the New York Times on the controversial coal-fired Desert Rock Power Plant proposed by the Diné Power Authority and Houston-based Sithe Global Power, which in turn is majority-owned by Blackstone, a large and much in the news private-equity firm:

The staff of Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democratic presidential aspirant, recently issued a statement saying that the plant “would be a significant new source of greenhouse gases and other pollution in the region” and that Mr. Richardson “believes, as planned, it would be a step in the wrong direction,” undoing his proposed reductions in emissions.

To my knowledge, this is the first time Gov. Richardson or his staff has spoken out publicly on the proposed plant, which is projected to increase greenhouse gas emissions in New Mexico by at least 15%, and produce significant amounts of other toxins like mercury. According to the New York Times, "each year, it would emit 12 million tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of adding 1.5 million average cars to the roads. Coal-fired electricity contributes more than half of the 57 million tons of annual carbon-dioxide emissions in New Mexico. Together, the two existing plants emit 29 million tons."

The fight against the power plant has received growing attention nationally, with increased coverage in the media and on progressive blogs. Gov. Richardson has made his generally very positive environmental record a cornerstone of his presidential campaign, but until the recent statement had refrained from speaking out clearly against Desert Rock.

The Four Corners region, where the plant would be sited, already has two coal-fired power plants that produce copious amounts of pollution, turn the skies in the area brown and deposit other dangerous substances in water sources for hundreds of miles.

Hearings on Desert Rock EIS
A series of public hearings in New Mexico on the projected environmental impacts of Desert Rock was completed yesterday. Environmental groups like the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, San Juan Citizens Alliance, as well as Diné groups like Dooda Desert Rock (their blog has lots of information about their vigil against the plant and more) and Diné CARE, joined many ordinary citizens in strongly criticizing both the plant and the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs that reports on its potential impacts.

Dem-Proposed Tax Break Defeated in NM Legislature
In the NM Legislative Session earlier this year, a proposed bill to provide an $85 million tax break to Desert Rock was introduced and pushed by two Democratic leaders, Senate Pro Tem Ben Altamirano and House Speaker Ben Lujan. The bills were eventually defeated with the help of state representative Ray Begaye, a Navajo, and lobbying by many others in the state in a process that often featured heated battles within legislative committees and behind the scenes. (See previous posts listed below.) According to a recent article in The Economist:

Ray Begaye, a Democratic state representative and a Navajo, worries that the new power plant will suck water out of the area's aquifer and contaminate it with mercury and other toxins.

What Gov. Richardson and NM Could Do
The state of New Mexico has no real jurisdiction over whether Desert Rock gets built since the plant would sit on lands within the sovereign Diné Nation. However, critics have suggested that Richardson and others could speak out publicly against the plant and apply other pressures to discourage or at least improve the project. The state, perhaps working with the federal government or private business interests, might also come up with a plan to offer financial and other incentives for the tribe to pursue green energy projects that might produce significant jobs and revenues for the Navajos. They might also help to attract capital and other resources in support of renewable energy development on Dine land. After all, the Four Corners has an abundance of sun and wind that could be harnassed to produce large amounts of power without adding to the already heavy coal-fired plant pollution in the region and beyond.

Another possible strategy would be to pass legislation to encourage Sithe's investment in rapidly developing carbon-sequestration technology to lessen the global warming impact of the plant's emissions. Again, according to the New York Times:

Some backers of the plant hope that Desert Rock could be a proving ground for an experimental technology to reduce carbon emissions by capturing them and injecting them deep in the ground.

Mr. Johns of Sithe Global Power and Senator Jeff Bingaman, the New Mexico Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, expressed hope that the carbon-capture technology could be incorporated into the plant with an additional $1 billion investment.

The Senate Finance Committee approved a measure for a production tax credit of $20 a ton for sequestered carbon dioxide, and Mr. Bingaman said he was looking for [a] bill to attach it as an amendment.

Many will be watching to see what Gov. Richardson says and does next on the power plant issue. Only time will tell if his critical statement was merely a political response to growing publicity about Desert Rock or if Richardson will be as outspoken against the plant as he has been against oil and gas drilling on New Mexico's Otero Mesa and other environmentally dangerous projects.

More Information
Some of our previous posts, including guest blogs, about the Desert Rock Power Plant issue:

Also see an article on the plant and the recent EIS hearing in Albuquerque in this week's edition of the alibi.

July 27, 2007 at 06:38 PM in 2008 Presidential Primary, Energy, Environment, Native Americans, NM Legislature 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Speak Out on Health Care at Legislative Meetings in Las Vegas & Taos

From the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign:
Las Vegas: On Wednesday, July 18, the Interim Legislative Health and Human Services Committee will be meeting in Las Vegas at New Mexico Highlands University's Student Center. The focus of the agenda will be to discuss health care reform and the study that was recently completed by Mathematica. The executive director of the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign, Mary Feldblum, has been asked to present (at 3:30 PM), as has Celia Ameline, the creator of Health Choices. The meeting begins at 1:00 PM, and there will be a public comment period from 5:45 to 7:00 PM. Come hear our executive director and let the committee hear your opinions!

Taos: On Thursday and Friday, July 19 and 20, the Interim Legislative Health and Human Services Committee will be meeting in Taos at the Taos Convention Center. Thursday's meeting begins at 10:30 AM and Friday's meeting begins at 9:00 AM. Again, there will be time for public comment. Public comment will take place Thursday from 5:20 to 7:00 PM and Friday from 3:00 to 3:30 PM. Please take advantage of the public comment periods to share your views with the committee.

It is critical that Health Security Campaign supporters speak out at these meetings in Las Vegas and Taos. You can check out the agenda for the July 18 Las Vegas meeting and the July 19 and 20 Taos meeting here (PDF).

Some Talking Points

  • The Mathematica study clearly indicates that the Health Security Act is the only proposal that reduces health care costs and covers everyone.
  • The results of the Mathematica study should not be ignored.
  • This is the second time that a New Mexico study has concluded that putting all or almost all of our residents in one health risk pool saves money.
  • The Health Security Act has had input from thousands of New Mexicans over the years. The Act is supported by 128 organizations and 25 counties and cities.
  • We have a choice between two paths: to continue to invest in our broken private insurance system or to take a different road.
  • Be sure to talk about why you support the Health Security Act.

Other Opportunities to Speak Up
We will let you know about other opportunities to let your voice be heard in the coming months. The Interim Health and Human Services Committee will be meeting in Zuni and Gallup in August, in Hobbs and Roswell in September, in Española and Santa Fe in October, and in Santa Fe in November. We'll let you know about specific dates, times, and venues as soon as the interim committee confirms them.

Just in case you haven't seen the results of the Mathematica study, we've included them below.

The Study Results
The following five models were analyzed by Mathematica, the company hired to perform the analysis.

  • Model 1. Health Security Act, Version 1: Our plan, which sets up a cooperative to provide health insurance to almost all New Mexicans. This version assumes urban provider administrative savings.
  • Model 2. Health Security Act, Version 2: This second version assumes no provider administrative savings.
  • Model 3. Health Choices, Version 1: A health insurance marketing alliance that provides vouchers to all New Mexicans, paid for with taxpayer dollars.
  • Model 4. Health Choices, Version 2: A version of the health insurance marketing alliance that allows employers who provide insurance to opt out.
  • Model 5. Health Coverage Plan: Expansion of the current system, assuming greater enrollment in Medicaid and other public programs.

Click for a table (doc) of Mathematica's final numbers. Please note that these numbers exclude the over-65 (Medicare) population and the institutional population--populations that the Health Security Act would cover. The numbers also assume that under each model all New Mexicans are covered (a questionable assumption with all the models except the Health Security Act).

What these numbers mean: In 2007, only the Health Security Act costs less than the current system even when assuming no provider savings. The other models cost more than the current system.

In 2011, the Health Security Act version 1 saves $887 million (health expenditures are reduced by $887 million). Health Security version 2 saves $700 million. The Health Choices models cost $336 million and $383 million more than the current system. This amounts to over a $1 billion difference when you compare the cost of the Health Security models to the cost of the Health Choices models. (For example, Health Security version 1 costs $7,878 billion in 2001 while Health Choices version 1 costs $9,101 billion in that same year.)

In 2011, the Health Coverage model costs $70 million more than the current system. If you compare the difference in costs between the Health Security models and the Health Coverage model, Health Security version 1 amounts to almost $1 billion dollars in savings and Health Security version 2 amounts to $800 million. (For example, Health Security version 1 costs $7,878 billion in 2011 and Health Coverage costs $8,835 billion.)

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact Josette at 505-771-8763 or jhaddad@cableone.net.

July 17, 2007 at 09:49 AM in Healthcare, NM Legislature 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

ACTION ALERT: Community Forum on Health Care Reform Set for ABQ, 07.17.07

Editor's Note: Attention Albuquerque area grassroots; this is your chance to speak your mind and help shape the discussion of what the legislature needs to do to most effectively reform New Mexico's health care system so that it provides universal coverage and high quality care. If you're concerned about health care, now is the time to learn more about the results of the recent health care study by Mathematica and make your views known about the best path to pursue on this issue. 

From Health Action New Mexico:
Community Forum: “Achieving Health Care for All”
Presentation, Discussion on NM Health Care Reform Study

Join members of the community to discuss the results of a state-sponsored study comparing various models of universal health care, the work of the Governor and Legislative Health Coverage for New Mexicans Committee, and achieving health care for all people living in New Mexico.

  • When: Tuesday, July 17th, 2007, 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Where: First Unitarian Church, 3701 Carlisle NE, SW corner of Comanche and Carlisle in NE Albuquerque
  • Light refreshments
  • Spanish interpretation provided
  • For More Information Call Leigh Mason, 975-9667
  • Click for flyer (doc) you can distribute or post

Local Cosponsors:

  • Bernalillo County Community Health Council
  • Native American Health Care Council of New Mexico
  • St. Joseph’s Community Health

Statewide Sponsors:

  • Health Care for All Campaign
  • New Mexico Voices for Children
  • League of Women Voters NM
  • AARP
  • NM Conference of Churches
  • NM Coalition for the Homeless
  • Health Action NM

Additional community forums will be held in Las Cruces, Silver City, Santa Fe, Roswell, Taos, Rio Rancho, Las Vegas, and Gallup during the period of July throught September. More information will be released as it's available.

July 12, 2007 at 12:12 PM in Events, Healthcare, Local Politics, NM Legislature 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mother Media & Break the Grip: Attend NM Legislative Energy Policy Meetings Today & Tomorrow

From Mother Media and Break the Grip:
Action Alert: The Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Interim Committee meets today and tomorrow to discuss New Mexico Energy Policy in Room 309 of the Roundhouse. Please come to prevent nuclear, coal and PNM corporate monopoly interests from dominating the discussion. Read the agenda on the NM Legislature website. Mother Media and Break the Grip will be there starting at 9 AM today, Thursday, July 12.

Although we may not be able to cover the entire session, we especially recommend citizens attend the Nuclear Energy Institute's presentation at 3 PM today where we suspect they may unveil proposed siting locations for new nuclear power plants either in New Mexico or the Four Corners area. Senator Domenici has apparently proposed as many as thirteen different sites in New Mexico for nuclear power plant development.

Art Hull, the PNM lobbyist under investigation by the Attorney General for working out of the Governor's office during the last Legislative Session, will be presenting PNM's strategy for New Mexico at 9 AM Friday, July 13th. Mr. Hull deserves to hear from New Mexicans in person concerned about his influence over State government and PNM's aggressive push for nuclear and coal central plant infrastructure.

Over the last weeks, Mother Media and BreaktheGrip.org have done intensive research on New Mexico's energy policy direction. Major nuclear players like Jeff Sterba and Jim Ferland of Westinghouse and PNM now literally run the state, using lobbyists like Art Hull to operate out of the governor's office.

Understandably, therefore, concern that New Mexico's existing nuclear and uranium resources will make it the one stop shop for nuclear power on the Western grid have increased to panic levels. Cynically leveraging popular concern about global warming and climate change, nuclear power corporations believe they have found their opportunity to move from supplemental power supplier to major player, elbowing out renewable energy, distributed generation and efficiency through manipulation of the Legislature and the Public Regulation Commission.

The Eunice enrichment facility, the proposed reprocessing facility in Roswell/Hobbs, new uranium mining activities and the recent proposal by Richardson allies Henry Kissinger and George Schultz to downblend old warheads like those at Kirtland Air Force base for use in nuclear power plants make New Mexico ground zero for America's nuclear energy program.

Throughout the world, major innovations in power distribution now integrate the intermittent and decentralized power from solar, wind, biomass and co-generation (heat and electricity). State of the art electricity grids have moved away from centralized power plants to distributed, multipoint generation systems. One by one, European countries have shut down central power plants while successfully integrating huge amounts of renewable energy. Overall system cost has been dramatically reduced by locating energy sources close to high demand and providing high "infeed rates" to renewable energy and other innovative clean energy suppliers.

By reducing or eliminating the need for long power lines and the associated system balancing infrastructure, European and Chinese utilities have reduced overall system cost - and ratepayer bills - by up to 60%. PNM's outdated central nuclear and coal plant system would be illegal in some European countries because it is so backward, inefficient and costly to operate.

It takes time and energy to cover these committe hearings. Please help Mother Media intervene on behalf of New Mexico's citizens and environment by buying an ad in our newsletter or in The Sun News. Send us your text and graphics, then use our PayPal link or send a check to:

Leland Lehrman
163 Old Lamy Trail
Lamy, NM 87540   

Leland Lehrman can be reached at (505) 982-3609 or (505) 473-4458 and by email at leland.lehrman@gmail.com.

July 12, 2007 at 09:38 AM in Energy, Environment, NM Legislature 2007, Nuclear Arms, Power | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Repub Rep. Foley: Obscenities, Spitting Tobacco Juice and Charging at Cops

Arrest Mug Shot: NM Rep. Dan Foley (R-Chaves County) with tobacco spitting residue evident on his shirt

The Roswell Daily Record provides the photo (above) and the story on what the police report on Foley's Sunday arrest at a youth basketball game reveals. You really should read the whole thing, but here's an especially telling excerpt:

Screaming profanities at an opposing coach, the Roswell Republican rushed the court and spat chewing tobacco at an officer before being arrested, police said.

... "I told Mr. Foley to 'get back,' but Mr. Foley continued to push forward," Carrasco said in the incident report. "I attempted to pull Mr. Foley back, but Mr. Foley pushed forward (charged) in an aggressive stance. ... I pulled Mr. Foley back and placed him on the ground facing up... I held Mr. Foley down ... to stop him from getting up." One witness said Foley had been yelling at players and officials during previous games. The witness told police that when Foley was being escorted to the mall security office for police questioning, the crowd began to cheer.

During questioning at the mall, the aggression continued, the report said. Foley asked for officers' names, saying he was going to "have our jobs," an officer said. "Mr. Foley used too many obscenities to be remembered," the officer said.

If convicted at his August 2nd trial, Foley would face a potential maximum fine of $784 and 20 days in jail. He's entered a not guilty plea to charges of disorderly conduct, obstructing an officer and resisting arrest and is reportedly requesting a jury trial.

Click for our previous post on the arrest of Foley.

June 27, 2007 at 09:23 AM in Crime, Local Politics, NM Legislature 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Guest Blog: How to Get Health Security for Everybody

This is a guest blog by Terry Riley of Albuquerque:
New Mexico is working on health care coverage reform. The movie "Sicko" will convince you of the critical need for such reform if you are not already convinced. I urge everybody to take everybody that you know to the movie. I cannot imagine anybody coming out of the movie without understanding that our system of health care reimbursement is broken and that there are plenty of systems that we could adopt that work well.

I have been working on a plan here in New Mexico that will work well and will reduce what New Mexico pays for health care plus it will cover everybody in the state. The Governor and the Legislature put together a committee to study the problem and to make a proposal in time for the 2008 legislative session. As part of the work that they have done they hired a consulting firm to calculate how much each of the three systems that the committee had narrowed to would cost. The Health Security Plan would cost less than we spend as a state now where the other two plans would cost more.

Cost should never be the only reason to rely on when making such an important decision. What and who will be covered should be of equal importance. The Health Security Plan won again. It is the only plan where everybody in the state will be covered. The other two plans have some small gaps, which I fear will become wide gaps after implementation. One example of a group of people who would not be covered in the two more expensive plans, is people who are homeless due to domestic abuse.  Personally, I don't need to look for any more examples of who would not be covered. These people desperately need coverage and they are not. I see that everybody is covered under the Health Security Plan.  I don’t understand why the other two plans are still being considered. They cost more and they don't cover everybody.

The hearings that were held on Thursday and Friday, June 21 and 22 also reported on the impact on gross receipts taxes, job losses vs. job gains, legal ramifications relating to federal government medical assistance programs, etc. The study by Mathematica was extremely detailed. I believe, from having attended the reports from Mathematica, and from having read as much of the 218 page report that I have completed so far, that the Health Security Plan is the least expensive, the least difficult to implement, and everybody is covered

Thursday afternoon the committee received a communication from Governor Richardson. Michele Welby who is on the Governor's staff and is a member of the committee relayed the communication. What I feel is the most significant and most disturbing point in his communication is that he will not support any plan that does not include the health insurance corporations. This is the largest and most unnecessary cost in our entire health care delivery system.

The argument that the Health Security Plan is a single payer system - AND - unworkable because it would be run by the "Government", is stupid. The Health Security Plan is a Co-Op, which is a distinct type of single payer system that has a long history of success in the development of our country. The argument that we cannot trust the "Government" to run anything seems very unrealistic to me.  Aren't our fire departments, police and sheriff's departments run by the government?  Aren't Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid run by the government?  Aren't our streets and highways maintained by our government?  What about the obvious failure of the privatization of services to our armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan?  The same failure due to the privatization of aid to the victims of Katrina?  A government system that is constructed by people who have a financial interest in that system's failure will likely fail.  A government system that is constructed by people who have a personal interest in the success of that system have a high probability of success.

I want success. I want lower cost. I want everybody covered. We will only achieve these goals if we get organized and convince our elected representatives that we will accept nothing less. Please join me as I develop the necessary organization for New Mexico to bring health security to everybody.

The web site for the Health Security Plan is not working; for information on the Health Security Plan and to join in supporting the Health Security Plan please go to:  www.whatifyouknew-nm.com. The Health Security supporters do not have the funding of our private health coverage corporations and therefore cannot afford the fancy literature, TV ads, radio ads, and expensive retreats and luncheons for our legislators and for our Governor. We are citizens who are trying to put together a plan that will improve life for all of our neighbors.  The plan that we are proposing has now been analyzed by a company with extremely good credentials and has passed the test. It is time for us to come together and to explain to our representatives what we want done in our name.  In New Mexico we want the Health Security Plan.

Editor's Note: This is a guest blog by Albuquerque citizen-activist Terry Riley. Guest blogs provide our readers with an opportunity to express their opinions on political issues, and they may or may not represent our views. If you'd like to submit a post for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper right-hand corner of our main page.

June 26, 2007 at 08:59 AM in Film, Guest Blogger, Healthcare, NM Legislature 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Guest Blog: Ben Luce on Why He Launched "Break The Grip!"

This is a guest blog by environmental activist Ben Luce of Break the Grip!:

For the past ten years I have tried as hard as I could to work through our existing political system, as a mostly polite and "professional" environmental advocate, to bring about policies that support renewable energy development and energy efficiency. I collaborated with the Richardson Administration and the utilities, to the extent that this was possible, to "move the ball forward" as people say. Mind you, this was not an easy process, I sometimes sparred publicly with the Administration and the utilities, and often sparred with them behind the scenes, but I mainly pursued the usual channels of lobbying politely, participating in PRC cases, etc.

We did make some progress, to be sure, getting things such as solar tax credits and stronger solar rights through, and the initial renewable energy standard and some other things. I am still very happy and proud about those things.

But I did fight many quiet wars, things were often delayed or compromised to a great extent, and I was always bothered by the pervasive and blatant undue corporate influence that I saw around me at the Legislature in general.

Then, in the recent Legislative Session, I experienced undue corporate influence to the extreme: The Richardson Administration, to my great sadness and dismay, basically teamed up with PNM to exclude citizen advocacy at all costs and try to gut the effectiveness of the new renewable energy standard, of course while making it look good for Richardson. They also tried to strip out crucial renewable energy provisions from the Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (already an extremely scary piece of legislation), and force a clean coal incentive down our throats. The Administration even had a PNM lobbyist working inside and officially representing the Administration (Art Hull), who was assigned to work on the Transmission Authority. Similarly, the clean coal incentive was forced us by a coal-industry connected LANL person named Charryl Berger, who was "on loan" to the Legislature.

Moreover, I sadly watched as the Democratic Leadership put a PNM lobbyist forward and bully citizen advocates to pass a PNM originated bill that rolls back protections for low-income people, and also try to force a $60 million tax incentive through for the Desert Rock Power Plant.

All of this obscene abuse of power was finally too much for me. After mulling it all over, and writing down my experiences over the past ten years (and storing this for safe keeping with others), I finally decided to go public about what actually happened. More than that, instead of just issuing an angry "rant" (as the Administration characterized my first press conference), I decided to launch, with other concerned citizens, a new campaign called "Break The Grip!". This will hopefully be a persistent citizens' campaign to systematically expose as much of the corporate political monopoly over New Mexico as possible, and call for a wide range of reforms.

I spent a few weeks developing the web site (www.breakthegrip.org), which now contains much detail about the past relative to my own experiences, and we launched the campaign on Tuesday, June 19th (Tuesday being associated with the Greek God of War).

Since that time, AP coverage of the event has spread widely, including nationally, so I think we've made some impact.

We've also received tremendous support from the public: It seems that many people feel the way I do.

But we will need lots of help from the public on keeping the buzz going. We already used up a lot of publicity capital in our first press conference, so we need people to write letters-to-the-editor, join our network (send email to network@breakthegrip.org), etc. Don't let these guys hear the end of it!

The forces that be are already fighting back: A Richardson appointee named Gregory Green already crashed my press conference on behalf of the Administration and attempted to blunt our coverage by playing dumb about what happened during the session (he was a lobbyist for my former organization during the session), and apparently conveniently managed not to mention that he is currently a Richardson Appointee to the powerful Environmental Improvement Board. This is the kind of unethical response that needs to be countered. Who knows what else they will try? I've certainly written my fair share of embarrassing emails in the past, and I expect to start seeing them turning up in public. Do I care? Sure, things will likely be painful for me. But I'm persona non grata now anyway (at least among the corrupt! I've gotten lots of support from people on the inside too).

So, please help us rid our state of the obscene grip of corporations over our political system here in this state. Now is the time. Visit www.breakthegrip.org, read through the materials there, join the network, and await news of further opportunities to participate. We intend to take this campaign to the doorsteps of the powerful, and not back down.

Thanks and best wishes,
Ben Luce

Editor's Notes: This is a guest blog by Ben Luce, the former Chair and Policy Director of the New Mexico Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy (CCAE). Guest blogs provide our readers with an opportunity to express their opinions on political issues, and they may or may not represent our views. If you'd like to submit a post for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper right-hand corner of our main page.

Click to read a previous post on the formation of Break the Grip!

June 25, 2007 at 11:01 AM in Corporatism, Energy, Environment, Ethics & Campaign Reform, Guest Blogger, Local Politics, NM Legislature 2007, Nuclear Arms, Power | Permalink | Comments (3)