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Addressing the Digital Divide in New Mexico

Addressing the Digital Divide in New Mexico: 

Too many New Mexicans do not have access to reliable broadband. Health Action is working to fix this in Southern New Mexico.

Currently, 42% of the state of New Mexico does not have adequate broadband access. The good news is that planning efforts are underway to correct this. State councils, working groups, and collaboratives are working together on this project, known as the New Mexico Broadband Action Plan.

Federal and state funding has been reserved for this Action Plan which will be implemented over the period of five years. The covered populations under this comprehensive Action Plan includes low-income households, ethnic/racial groups, rural residents, persons with language barriers, aging individuals, persons with disabilities, the incarcerated, and veterans. Within these populations, youth and young adults will figure prominently as a high priority.

Included in this funded Action Plan will be community outreach, computer and internet literacy, training for jobs of the future, registering for family internet services discounts, and forming of coalitions to reach isolated areas.

Health Action New Mexico will be concentrating on targeted outreach and direct awareness-building among covered populations. You are invited to track these efforts and become part of them.

Build Back Better

The Talents of Youth in Southern New Mexico

Nowhere in the state are there more opportunities for youth to get involved in jobs of the future, job skills training, and service to community like here in Southern New Mexico!

One great opportunity at present, are the good paying jobs at all levels of filmmaking. Southern New Mexico is becoming a mecca for filmmaking for movies, television, and documentaries.

Another opportunity is the broadband infrastructure projects already tooling-up to bring internet services to all of Southern New Mexico, especially the rural areas not currently adequately served by broadband services.

Many of these jobs do not require a degree, but there are ways to start with mentoring, part-time employment, and on-site training. There are also good programs at community colleges to get more specialized training.

Youth have a lot of talents to be valuable participants in these jobs. We will be discussing these opportunities further at our Youth Goal-Setting sessions and on
our Health Action New Mexico website:

Build Back Better

Youth are the Future for Southern New Mexico!

Youth are the Future for Southern New Mexico!

 When COVID 19 hit, the youth were overlooked in needing and receiving
help during the crisis.

 25% of high school age youth disappeared from enrollment in public
schools. Many of these youth have still not been re-enrolled.

 During the pandemic, youth were increasingly involved in alcohol and drug
abuse, involved in criminal activities, and youth suicides increased.

 HANM is currently directly serving young adults, 9th graders to post high
school with Youth Opportunity Sessions. These sessions are designed to
support the youth in identifying their interest, talents, and dreams for the

 This project is becoming a model for guiding youth to develop goals and
action plans for success. Through this model, youth are building their self-
confidence and becoming engaged in beneficial activities for their families
and community.

 We invite others who are interested in this model to join with us in bringing
these Youth Opportunity Sessions to other communities of Southern New

 The future of Southern New Mexico will be based on all of us setting a
priority to support youth for their success.


Build Back Better

Broadband Access in NM

The path to a successful future for families of New Mexico is through
broadband/internet services . . .

Under a grant from the Con Alma Foundation, Health Action New Mexico is
building partnerships with Southern New Mexico rural residents so that they are
included in the planning of their needed broadband infrastructure. 42% of rural
New Mexico homes are without broadband access. This percentage of unserved
homes is the highest in the country according to the PEW Research Center. A key
strategy in this project is to make sure that rural families are served in their
homes with high-speed, affordable internet services. 

Build Back Better

Proposed EIB regs could be a model for US

Thursday, October 14th, 2021 at 12:02AM

Safeguarding public health is central to the mission of the Environmental Improvement Board (EIB), and it has a rare opportunity to protect the long-term health of all New Mexicans with a single action this month. As it considers the New Mexico Environment Department’s (NMED) proposed oil and gas pollution rules, the EIB should resist industry attempts to weaken the regulation and instead include key improvements supported by public health advocates and industry that will deliver the strongest possible protections – especially for frontline communities living closest to well sites.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has made a commitment to enacting rules to cut ozone and methane pollution that are a model for the nation in protecting public health. NMED has worked long and hard to get here and, with a few key improvements at (a two-week) hearing that (ended Oct. 1), the state can finalize rules that truly lead the nation and protect frontline communities from pollution. The communities we work with are seeing the serious health impacts of oil and gas pollution. (Such) pollution is taking a toll on all New Mexicans’ air, water and health, but rural communities, tribal communities, children and the elderly are especially at risk. The American Lung Association gave New Mexico’s top oil- and gas-producing counties – Lea, Eddy and San Juan – an F grade for ozone in its 2021 State of the Air Report. Oil and gas operations are a significant source of ozone-forming VOCs (volatile organic compounds), as well as methane emissions from venting, flaring and leaks. Well-site toxins can worsen respiratory diseases and trigger asthma attacks, and smog can also worsen emphysema and impact the cardiovascular system. That is why the EIB should strengthen the proposed rules to protect frontline communities by requiring more frequent inspections to find and fix leaks at sites that are in our backyards; accelerate the transition to lower polluting zero-bleed pneumatic controllers; and ensure that pollution created during well completions is captured.

Not only are improvements to the NMED’s proposed rules based on requirements already in place in such leading states as Colorado, but also they are supported by public health, community and environmental leaders across the state, as well as by the National Park Service and even by Oxy USA Inc., one of the top producers in New Mexico’s Permian Basin. This level of broad, diverse support is rare in New Mexico, and it offers the EIB an excellent opportunity to enact nation-leading rules that protect all of us from dangerous oil and gas pollution. More than 130,000 New Mexicans live within a half-mile of oil and gas development, including communities of color that face disproportionate impacts from climate change and air pollution.

Operators such as Oxy understand that reducing emissions is common sense, and good for their bottom line and our air. Colorado has successfully implemented rules, including more frequent inspection schedules for frontline communities, that have led to a drop in leaks and emissions. Now, it’s New Mexico’s turn.

We support Gov. Lujan Grisham and NMED’s efforts to hold the oil and gas industry accountable in reducing ozone and methane pollution. For our health and for our climate, the EIB must strengthen the proposed pollution rules to protect New Mexicans living closest to development.


Health Action

New Oil and Gas Rules Can Protect Public Health

"The communities we work with are seeing the serious health impacts of oil and gas pollution."

Oil and gas pollution is a public health issue.

The New Mexico Environment Department and the Environmental Improvement Board must strengthen rules to protect those living closest to development. See the op-ed below for more, from The Santa Fe New Mexican:

New oil and gas rules can protect public health

  • Sep 24, 2021, Updated Sep 24, 2021

Safeguarding public health is central to the mission of the Environmental Improvement Board, and it has a rare opportunity to protect the long-term health of New Mexicans with a single action this month.

As it considers the New Mexico Environment Department’s proposed oil and gas pollution rules, the Environmental Improvement Board should include key improvements supported by public health advocates and industry that will deliver the strongest possible protections — especially for frontline communities living closest to well sites...(read more)

Health Action

David Mitchell Talks Affordable Prescriptions

"High prices limit access to medications people need right now." (David Mitchell)
Access to affordable prescriptions is critical for our communities throughout both New Mexico and the United States.
The latest false attack on Medicare negotiations is that proposed legislation will limit our access to prescription drugs. It’s important to set the record straight clearly and directly.
Health Action

Fact-Checking Pharma

New ad campaigns financed by the pharmaceutical industry are spreading rumors about direct Medicare negotiation — here's why those rumors are false.

Health Action

‘We Just Have To All Agree That This Isn’t Working’: Drug-Pricing Reform Faces ‘Pivotal’ Moment On Capitol Hill

Read about the biggest pharmaceutical developments and pricing stories from the past week in KHN's Prescription Drug Watch roundup.

Yahoo Finance: HHS Ready To Battle Drug Companies For Lower Prices In Court: Sec. Becerra

Drug prices are once again in focus on Capitol Hill as lawmakers renew their push for pricing reform. And U.S. Health and Human Services Department Sec. Xavier Becerra has joined in on the effort. "We just have to all agree that this isn't working. Countries around the world are providing medicine to their people for far less than we do," Becerra told Yahoo Finance in an exclusive interview Monday, adding that often those same drugs are made in the U.S. Becerra made an appearance alongside U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ-06) and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) in New Jersey Monday at a multi-city event to discuss lower drug costs. (Khemlani, 8/17)

FiercePharma: Buckle Up, Pharma. Your Industry Faces A 'Pivotal' 45 Days In D.C., Analyst Warns 

If there was any doubt about the sincerity President Joe Biden wanted to convey with his appeal to Congress on drug pricing reform, he removed it by bringing his departed mom into the discussion. Speaking in the East Room of the White House on Thursday, Biden recalled that Catherine Biden’s “prescription drugs were so expensive” that it took money from himself, his two brothers and a sister to cover the cost so she wouldn’t have to “exhaust the little savings she had.” With that, Biden set the scene for what promises to be a contentious several weeks in Washington as Congress weighs potential measures to combat high drug costs. (Dunleavy, 8/16)

KVOA: AARP Launches Campaign To Lower Prescription Drug Prices

On Monday, AARP launched a three-week television, and radio advertising campaign urging U.S. Senators to support allowing Medicare to use its power to negotiate drug prices with drug manufacturers. The seven-figure investment highlights negotiation as a critical step toward lowering prescription drug costs for all Americans, especially seniors who on average take between four and five medications each month and have a median income of just over $26,000 a year, AARP said. (Nylander, 8/16)

WREX: New Laws Aim To Lower Prescription Drug Prices In Illinois

Governor JB Pritzker Monday signed a package of legislation that aims to address financial obstacles in accessing health care, while increasing transparency when purchasing prescription medications. HB 119 formalizes the legal process for donating unused prescription drugs to certified pharmacies or health departments. By establishing a prescription drug repository program, prescription and over-the-counter medication that remain unexpired and unopened can be returned to pharmacies and reused for eligible populations. (8/17)

Health Action

We can make drugs more affordable for New Mexicans

  • Aug 14, 2021

It is tough to go even a week without seeing another report about pharmaceutical industry profiteering, and it’s time for New Mexicans to fight back. In the latest outrage, the New York Times reports the drug manufacturer Biogen will charge $56,000 a year for its new Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm.

Drug prices have little to do with the cost of research and development and the need to deliver affordable treatment to patients, and much more to do with company revenue targets and profits. Biogen’s stock soared nearly 40 percent on news of the $56,000 price tag. Prescription drug companies are the only businesses in the health care industry whose rates are not regulated. It’s time to hold them to the same standard as all other health care providers.

New Mexico needs a prescription drug affordability board to help ensure we all have access to affordable medications, because drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them, and our health care system cannot sustain the continued upward pressure of rising drug costs. By creating such a board, the state Legislature and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham can empower an independent body with the authority to evaluate high-cost drugs and set reasonable rates for consumers.

Other states are already acting to take on the pharmaceutical industry’s anti-consumer practices. The Colorado Legislature just passed a prescription drug board that will consider a broad range of economic factors when setting appropriate payment rates for reviewed drugs, requiring pharmaceutical manufacturers to justify drug costs. Once a fair rate is determined, the board sets an upper payment limit that applies to all purchasers and payer reimbursements in the state, ensuring lower costs benefit consumers.

The bill sets various conditions that would trigger an affordability review, including when prices increase by more than 10 percent per year, or exceed either $30,000 a year for brand-name drugs or $100 a month for generics per person. Patients or consumer advocates also could nominate drugs for review.

New Mexicans continue to struggle to afford the prescription drugs they need, often having to choose between their medication and other necessities, like rent and groceries. Meanwhile, the drug companies that produce these drugs make billions of dollars a year in profits.

The Journal of the American Medical Association reports 35 big drug companies raked in $8.6 billion in profits between 2000 and 2018. Nine of the top 10 companies spend more money on marketing and advertising than they do on researching new drugs. There is no excuse for the high prices they charge.

A new statewide coalition of health experts, patient advocates and consumers — New Mexico Consumers for Affordable Prescriptions — is urging our lawmakers to create a prescription drug affordability board and end the prescription drug price gouging that hurts our families and neighbors. Organizations ranging from AARP, the Center on Law and Poverty, Health Action New Mexico, to New Mexico Voices for Children and the New Mexico Conference of Churches, have come together to demand action in the 2022 legislative session.

On average, Americans pay four times as much for the same medicines as people in other countries. As prescription drug companies continue to increase prices, it’s time to stand up to those who are harming vulnerable New Mexicans. We need controls to make drugs more affordable for people. New Mexico needs a prescription drug affordability board.

Kurt Rager is director of Lutheran Advocacy Ministry, New Mexico, and Erik Lujan is board president of Health Action New Mexico.

Health Action