State Will Boost Medicaid Reimbursement Rates, Oil Boom Prompts Need For More Infrastructure

Sep 3, 2019

New Mexico To Bolster Health Services, Medicaid PaymentsAssociated Press

New Mexico is moving forward with efforts to bolster access to a variety of health care and dental services by increasing rates for Medicaid payments to physicians and other providers.

The Human Services Department on Tuesday announced it would raise reimbursements to health care providers as soon as Oct. 1.

The plan relies heavily on federal spending to inject an additional $78.5 million into the health care sector. About $16 million will come from the state general fund under legislation signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

More than 800,000 residents are enrolled in the state's federally subsidized Medicaid program.

The majority of the new spending is directed at mental health, addiction treatment and other services that don't involve physical procedures.

Grant Aims To Boost Number Of Navajos Studying NeuroscienceAssociated Press

Researchers at the University of Arizona and Dine College are partnering to try to get more Navajo students into biomedical sciences.

The schools recently were awarded a $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Kathleen Rogers and Roberta Diaz Brinton from U of A and Fred Boyd from Dine College will develop a training program for Navajo students to further their studies in neuroscience.

They say Native Americans make up 0.5% of the workforce in biomedical sciences — the lowest of any minority group.

The students will work with Navajo elders while learning science research methods. The researchers say the approach recognizes that Native American students might have different perspectives in trying to address health disparities.

Report Finds Oil Boom To Continue, More Infrastructure Needed - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

New Mexico's oil and gas industry is expected to keep growing at a record pace, resulting in more revenue for the state and billions of dollars in new infrastructure investments to get the commodities to market.

The predictions were presented to state lawmakers Tuesday. The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association and the American Petroleum Institute commissioned the study.

Analysts estimate it will take $174 billion of new infrastructure to keep pace with expected growth through 2030. That infrastructure would range from new pipelines and access roads to well construction, processing plants and refineries.

Ryan Flynn with the oil and gas association says he doesn't see it as an infrastructure challenge but rather natural growth in investment that will come from production hitting new highs in the Permian Basin.

New Mexico Not Yet Evaluating Who Will Coach Vs Notre DameAssociated Press

A University of New Mexico spokesman says the football team has not yet reached the point of making coaching decisions for the Lobos' Sept. 14 game against Notre Dame.

Coach Bob Davie, who is 64, had a "serious medical incident" Saturday following New Mexico's season-opening victory against Sam Houston State.

He said in a statement Sunday that he expects to fully recover. He thanked the UNM Hospital staff who treated him at a "critical time."

The nature of his medical episode remained unclear Tuesday.

New Mexico spokesman Frank Mercogliano says the team is "not to the point" of making decisions about the game next week at Notre Dame.

Davie is a former Notre Dame coach. He's in his eighth season leading New Mexico.

The Albuquerque Journal reports there was no acting head coach at the Lobos' practice Monday. The coordinators ran practice for their squads.

Asian American Korea War Hero Gives What May Be 'Final' TalkGallup Independent, Associated Press

Hiroshi "Hershey" Miyamura, the son of Japanese immigrants who was awarded the U.S. Medal of Honor for his actions in the Korean War, may have given his last public lecture.

The Gallup Independent reports the ailing 94-year-old veteran spoke to a group of U.S. Navy Seabees last month in Gallup, New Mexico, about his life and service.

Miyamura spoke about the emotion he had seeing the American flag after he was liberated from a POW camp during the Korean War. The talks were part of the lectures he gives every summer to servicemen and servicewomen in western New Mexico.

Ken Riege, who travels around with Miyamura, says the veteran may not give the talks next year because of his declining health.

Miyamura served in the Army from 1945 to 1953.

New Mexico Denies License For Shelter For Immigrant BoysAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A New Mexico agency has rejected an Arizona-based organization's application for a planned Albuquerque shelter for immigrant children in the country illegally.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that a New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department official told Tucson-based VisionQuest in a letter Wednesday that it failed to accurately describe why Pennsylvania temporarily revoked a license for a facility near Gettysburg in 2015.

VisionQuest can appeal New Mexico's denial of a license to shelter up to 60 boys ages 11 to 17 who are in federal custody after entering the country without a legal guardian.

VisionQuest spokeswoman Amanda Burton said Friday that the company intends to provide additional documentation to the state and is concerned that the New Mexico agency considered incomplete information "more than a simple omission."

New Mexico Borderscene Film Festival To Offer Online OptionLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

Organizers say the Borderscene Film Festival is set to return for a second year in New Mexico with the option to view films online.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reported Monday that the festival in Las Cruces is scheduled to take place Sept. 6-9 at the Allen Theaters Cineport 10, Video 4 and Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces.

Organizers say the six-day festival's theme is "Overcoming Challenges."

Officials say they received 450 films from 48 countries and selected the top 15% for viewing.

Organizers say there are more than 75 films in the lineup. Most will be available for viewing online.

Passes for online-only viewing are being sold separately from regular festival passes.

2 New Mexico School Boards To Review Medical Pot Policies - KOAT-TV, Associated Press

Public school boards for two of the state's largest districts are preparing to review policy changes for students who have prescriptions for medical marijuana.

KOAT-TV reports that the Albuquerque Public Schools board is planning to review a draft policy Sept. 11 that would allow only parents to administer the drug to their children.

The Rio Rancho Public Schools board is expected to get its first look at a policy proposal at a meeting Monday.

State lawmakers this year passed a law allowing medical cannabis at schools. The school districts are developing policies on how to implement the law.

Matias Trujillo, an Albuquerque father whose son has epilepsy, says he is frustrated over how long it's taken the school districts to implement the law that took effect in June.

Judge Dismisses Federal Lawsuit Against Sheriff's Deputy - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that accused a Bernalillo County sheriff's deputy of using excessive force in the shooting death of an Albuquerque man.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that while the judge ruled sanctions against deputy Charles Coggins were not merited, he found detectives' investigation into the shooting was inadequate.

A wrongful death lawsuit in the shooting was previously settled for $130,000 in state court.

Authorities say Coggins shot Miguel Gonzalez the morning of July 4, 2017, after seeing him in a vehicle with a stolen license plate, which prompted a chase.

Coggins says he opened fire when Gonzalez raised his arm, saying "get back or I'll shoot."

An attorney for the mother of Gonzalez's children raised concerns about multiple factors, including Coggins' belt tape. He says he couldn't make it work in time.

Key Shaft At US Nuclear Waste Dump May Be Built By 2020- Carlsbad Current Argus, Associated Press

A major part of a multimillion-dollar effort to rebuild a ventilation system at the U.S. government's only underground nuclear waste repository is expected to be done by next year, officials announced last week.

The U.S. Department of Energy recently awarded a contract for the construction of a utility shaft essential to the project, the Carlsbad Current Argus reports.

The shaft was designed with a 26-foot diameter, extending 2,275 feet underground.

The rebuilt system of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, New Mexico, is intended to add air to the underground and allow the placement of mining and other waste to occur simultaneously.

The ventilation overhaul was prompted by a radiation release in 2014 that contaminated parts of the repository and forced its closure for nearly three years.

New Mexico Accountant Accused Of Defrauding Clients Of $1M- Las Cruces Sun News, Associated Press

Federal court records show a New Mexico accountant faces charges stemming from accusations he defrauded two clients of more than $1 million.

Citing court documents, the Las Cruces Sun News reports a married couple had entrusted 61-year-old Thomas Laws, a certified public accountant in Silver City, with the money. He is accused of failing to invest it after accepting it in 2014.

The newspaper reports Laws is charged with wire fraud; transportation, transmission, and transfer of stolen money; fraud; and aggravated identity theft.

An attorney representing Laws could not be reached for comment.

Authorities say he used the couple's money to pay credit card debts, personal and business expenses, and met obligations to other clients and investors.