Public Health New Mexico


KUNM‘s Public Health New Mexico reporting project provides in-depth, investigative and continuous coverage of public health in New Mexico, with an emphasis on poverty.

We cover the politicians, the policies, and the agencies responsible for sustaining public health and solving poverty. To fully report on these topics, we give voice to those who are voiceless in the media: people and practitioners; advocates and analysts; researchers and activists; and people hoping to build a better way of life. Through our work, citizens are engaged, government is made more accountable, and the profile of public health and poverty is elevated by expanded public discourse and civic engagement.

This project has been sustained by support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundationthe McCune Charitable FoundationCon Alma Health Foundation. and private donors.

KUNM broadcasts on transmitter throughout central and northern New Mexico, reaching more than half the state’s population.  Nielsen Audio Research from Fall 2014 shows 100,000 people a week listen to KUNM.

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.

A bill that would remove the mandatory requirement that Native American Medicaid recipients enroll in a state run managed care program is now heading to the Senate.

Centennial Care, New Mexico’s planned Medicaid program, would require all Medicaid users to enroll with one of four managed care organizations (MCO) contracted with the state.

Under the program, the Indian Health Service, as well as Tribal and urban clinics, would have to bill those same MCO’s for services provided, instead of going directly to the state for reimbursement.

A bill that would prohibit the mandatory enrollment of Native Americans in the states Medicaid managed care program, Centennial Care, has passed through the House Judiciary Committee unanimously.

Indian Health Service Prepares For Sequestration

Feb 15, 2013

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.

Centennial Care Tribal Opt-Out Clears Committee

Feb 14, 2013

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.

NCAI Calls For Action On Violence Against Women Act

Feb 14, 2013

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 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.

State Takes Another Step Toward Centennial Care

Feb 8, 2013
Parker Dennison

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.

GOP Senator Introduces Bill To Help Homeless

Feb 8, 2013

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.


Key points of the 2013 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard report that most New Mexicans live in asset poverty. In other words, they lack both financial assets, like bank accounts and homes, but also lack education and educational opportunities.

Congressman Ben R. Lujan is spending some time in his district that includes the northern and eastern parts of the state.  Tuesday he'll address state legislators. he also dropped by the studio to talk with our statehouse reporter Deborah Martinez.  Here's part one of that interview.


Reports: Griego Teen Was "Talented," "Troubled"

Jan 23, 2013
Barron Jones

(UPDATED 1/24/13) -  A private service will be held for the Griego family Friday.

15 year old Nehemiah Griego apparently gave a gruesome and very detailed confession to detectives after his arrest for shooting and killing five immediate family members.

Read latest details on confession from KOAT-TV

(UPDATED 1/23/13am)

Gov. Martinez Says Yes To Medicaid Expansion

Jan 9, 2013

New Mexico's Republican Governor Susana Martinez has approved the expansion of the state's Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. Native American health advocates say the expansion will have a huge effect on one of the largest Native American populations in the nation.

Over 200,000 registered tribal members live in New Mexico - and with nearly 40% of that population lacking healthcare - it's estimated that over 25-thousand Native people in New Mexico will potentially be eligible for the program in 2014. 

New Mexico Tribes Grapple With Domestic Violence

Jan 2, 2013

Nationally, Native American women are more likely to be killed, raped, assaulted and stalked than any other women in the country, according to federal crime and health data.  What’s more, the offenders are both native and non-native. There’s been a breakdown in traditional practices, lack of funding for services and when it comes to non-natives, tribes don’t have the authority to arrest them on their own lands. A controversial law offered solutions but never made it through Congress in 2012.