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Health advocates applaud Obama Administration for updated rules on stream pollution

Health Action New Mexico is applauding the Obama administration’s action today to finalize the Stream Protection Rule.  Since 2009, the Department of Interior has been working to revise inadequate regulations developed in the 1980’s that govern impacts to waterways from coal mining.

“The Stream Protection Rule is a common sense step to protect our nation’s streams and waterways from coal pollution that can harm the health and livelihood of local communities, farmers, and recreation,” said Barbara Webber, Executive Director of Health Action New Mexico. “This update is a long overdue step to ensure that regulation is keeping up with the best available science and new coal mining technology.”

In particular, this rule strengthens the requirements for testing water quality to ensure coal mines aren’t polluting streams and waterways both while they are operating and after mining has occurred.  These requirements improve on the status quo and help to make sure that active and shut-down coal mines won’t pollute our streams like what occurred in the Gold King Mine Spill that was disastrous for Northwest New Mexico in 2015.

The rule would also require coal mines to have a plan for how to protect fish and wildlife from coal mining, reducing the impacts on habitat and improving the reclamation of mines once development has ended.

Overall, the rule takes commonsense steps to protect the public and wildlife from damaging coal mine pollution, all for very little cost.  Independent analysis has shown that the rule would cost between $.01 and $.60 per ton of coal and will not have a significant impact on jobs.

Health Action New Mexico applauds the Department of Interior for finishing this long overdue update that will protect public health and our nation’s streams and waterways.

Health Action

Please donate to Health Action NM on #GivingTuesday

November 29th is Giving Tuesday – a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season.  It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support non-profit organizations like Health Action New Mexico.

Today we invite you to pause and consider supporting Health Action New Mexico on the kickoff of Giving Tuesday as we work to protect essential health programs.

Please donate to Health Action New Mexico to support our work.

A local non-profit like Health Action New Mexico relies on small donors to be successful in advancing our mission. Over the past year, with the help of small donors, we have worked with the Office of Border Health to improve health and health care access in small border communities and colonias; helped sign up thousands of working families for health coverage; reached an agreement with dental care professionals, including dentists, to license dental therapists in New Mexico; and worked on a number of consumer health policy priorities. This year, we’re shifting our focus to reigning in prescription drug prices, advancing a dental care access bill, and maintaining the integrity of Medicare, Medicaid, and the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange.

Our outreach and enrollment funding has been cut by 80 percent, even as the recent national election has made this work more important than ever. With your help, we can continue to work in communities throughout New Mexico not only to connect them with the health care they need, but to ensure their voices are heard as changes at the national level are considered.

With your help we know we can continue our mission of health care for all people in New Mexico. Please share this link via email or on social media with the hashtag  to spread the word. You can also support our GoFundMe campaign here

Health Action

Protecting Our Progress on Health Care

Donate today to support our campaign to protect Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act.

Health Action New Mexico has worked for over twenty years to improve equal access to health care in New Mexico. We have worked tirelessly on the ground and with decision makers to ensure that health reform and new health coverage options are being implemented successfully. During the first three years of enrolling people in Medicaid and new NM state marketplace, our bilingual field team of local organizers has connected over 5,500 previously uninsured families in 11 counties with the highest uninsured rates. Unlike four years ago when NM had the highest rate of uninsured, today more people are covered than ever before. 

The recent national election threatens to strip away the progress New Mexico has made on health care. Members of Congress have vowed to repeal health coverage for 22 million peoplescrap essential consumer protections (like ending pre-existing conditions and hiking rates on older adults, women, and the medically vulnerable), dismantle Medicaid so that fewer people are covered and states are on the hook for costs, and privatize Medicare for older adults ending the free preventive services and bringing back the donut hole for prescriptions drugs. This would fundamentally alter the commitment our nation has made to help those in need. 

We need to hold decision makers accountable if they choose to take action on these extreme ideas. Unless we stand up together at the community-level to oppose these harmful plans and offer a positive vision for our future, many will have worse or no access to health care and other basic rights, especially the most vulnerable among us. 

Here is our plan:

1. Mobilize a broad coalition to quickly respond to actions that threaten the rights of New Mexicans, especially on health, social justice, and civil rights issues.
2. Organize events across the state to ensure community input on social justice issues including their right to quality, affordable health care.
3. Stay on top of the latest and most accurate information and analysis about proposed changes and regularly update the public and decision makers.
4. Mobilize statewide canvassing, phone banking, rallying and other forms of civic engagement to educate and activate the public.
5. Continue our work on maximizing enrollment in low income communities throughout the state with our bilingual team of community organizers, lowering prescription drug costs, and expanding access to dental care through the use of dental therapists.

You can make a difference today by making a donation to our organizing efforts. All proceeds will go directly towards our work in the field. This work is often overlooked, but it is one of the few things standing between people and their health care. It means so much to us that you care about this cause as much as we do, and we promise that we will work tirelessly to protect our progress and acheive health care for all.

Health Action

In this season of giving thanks, Health Action NM thanks you

  

As we gather this Thanksgiving season to celebrate family, friends and those we care about and are thankful for in our lives, we at Health Action New Mexico want you to know how important you are to us and our work.

Direct Action Donation

Together with your support, partnership, consumer
activism and advocacy, this year we have:

  • Defended Medicaid – including informing the public and officials about the importance of keeping the Medicaid budget intact and joining in advocacy to secure Medicaid for the incarcerated population as they leave the prison and jail system.
  • Advocated for oral health access and affordability for the fourth year sponsoring legislation to license dental therapists. In the 2015 l this legislation passed the House for the first time.
  • Participated in a dental therapist task force that brought Health Action NM, the NM Dental Association, NM Dental Hygienists Association, legislators together to work on a solution to NM's oral health crisis.  After an arduous negotiating process, an historic agreement was made with all parties to advance dental therapist legislation in NM. More later.
  • Worked on enrollment in expanded Medicaid and exchange beWellNM. To date our statewide field team working with over 150 local partners has connected to enrollment nearly 5,000 uninsured rural, Hispanic and low income families including the border area. 
  • Organized celebration of the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid and honored 20 health care champions across NM at our 20th Anniversary.
  • Always, always, ensured that consumers and the consumer voice are at the table when decision makers are gathered regarding health care and its access and affordability. 
  • And much, much more.

Stella, Health Action's office pup, wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving and holiday season. 

On December 1st, Health Action NM will celebrate .  We hope you will join us on this national day of giving.

Your voiceactionvision and support are essential to the work of change and health justice. 

So thank you. We send our very best wishes to you and your loved ones for the Thanksgiving holidays. 

Sincerely,
The Whole Health Action NM Team

Health Action

#GivingTuesday

 

Click here to make a donation directly to Health Action New Mexico's work.

December 1st is Giving Tuesday – a campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season.  It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support non-profit organizations like Health Action New Mexico.

Today we invite you to pause and consider supporting Health Action New Mexico on the kickoff of Giving Tuesday as we work to increase access to oral health care and connect our New Mexico families to affordable to health care.  

Please support Health Action New Mexico.  Our goal is to raise additional funding for consumer outreach to the hardest to reach communities-including families in New Mexico’s border region.  We make sure consumers, their concerns and needs are at the table in campaigns like the consumer-led movement to expand access and affordability of dental care and expanding health coverage to all people in New Mexico.

With your help we know we can get there.  Please share this link via email or on you social media with the hash tag to spread the word about this wonderful day and our important work to increase access to affordable health are.

 

Best wishes during this holiday season,
Health Action New Mexico

 

              

www.HealthActionNM.org 

Health Action

New Mexico’s health insurance co-op is strong, despite national trends

After a key market stabilization payments came in lower than expected, non-profit health insurance co-ops around the nation began to close shop.  Fortunately for New Mexico, our co-op, New Mexico Health Connections (NMHC), remains financially solvent and is considered to be one of the strongest health insurance co-ops in the nation.  In fact, its financial solvency is four times higher than is required by the state’s insurance department.

NMHC’s role is especially important this year, as Blue Cross Blue Shield exits the market.  The co-op is building its network of providers rapidly to ensure that consumers can retain their doctors during this transition.  Nearly 7,750 providers now accept the carrier’s insurance and the number is growing every day.  According to the co-op, providers are coming to them and asking to be contracted so they can continue to see their patients.  This is a positive development for the state and will hopefully lead to savings for consumers.

Due to a filing error, NMHC’s plans will not be featured on beWellnm until November 15th.  The plans can be viewed here in the meantime.  Because of this error, many news outlets incorrectly reported that premiums rose by 26% in New Mexico.  The Office of the Superintendent of Insurance has corrected this error and noted that plans have only risen by 7.5%.

Note: Health Action NM does not endorse any insurance carrier or their products. This should not be interpreted as an endorsement of NMHC and is only intended to inform consumers about the state's co-op in light of recent national trends.

Health Action

Everything you need to know about the Open Enrollment period starting November 1

The open enrollment period for purchasing individual or family coverage through BeWellNM has arrived!  Beginning November 1, 2015 www.bewellnm.com will be open for those seeking health coverage.  The enrollment period is only three months long, ending January 31, 2016.  Here are some important things to keep in mind if you intend to purchase or renew coverage:

Before shopping on the exchange, see if you are eligible for Medicaid

You can visit https://www.yes.state.nm.us to sign up for Medicaid.  Be sure to seek out free enrollment assistance if you want help with your application by calling Health Action New Mexico at (505) 322-2152. 

Medicaid is a health coverage program that provides cost-free insurance to low income Americans.  Individuals making less than about $16,105 a year and families of four making less than about $32,913 a year are eligible for Medicaid.  Medicaid is available throughout the year, unlike plans acquired on the exchange, which can only be purchased during the open enrollment period.  If you are 1) between the ages 19-64 and 2) are a U.S. citizen or lawfully present immigrant and meet household income requirements, you may be eligible for free health insurance.

 

You can also use the chart below to see whether you and your family qualify for Medicaid:

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Health Coverage and Financial Help

If you don’t qualify for Medicaid, the next step is to visit http://www.bewellnm.com, where you can shop for health coverage.  It is important to keep in mind that the window for obtaining coverage through the exchange is limited, lasting from November 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016. 

You may be eligible for financial help.  You will need to know your household income to determine your eligibility.  Check out the Get Covered subsidy calculator to see how much you can save on your health plan. Right now, you can view price estimates for plans that you can purchase that factor in tax credits at https://www.healthcare.gov/see-plans/.  Insurance lingo can often be confusing.  If you run in to any terminology that you are unfamiliar with, check out beWellNM’s health care glossary.  You can always call Health Action NM’s office if you have any questions.

Shopping for insurance can be a daunting task.  Luckily there are experts available to help you find the plan that is right for you. Health Action New Mexico can connect you to a trusted local assister near you.  Click here or call our office at (505) 322-2152 and we will help you arrange a free appointment.  BeWellnm is setting up enrollment sites throughout the state.  Right now, you can visit the Enrollment Assistance Center at 2301 San Pedro NE near Indian School in Albuquerque.  Check back on this post for updates on enrollment sites in other parts of the state.

Shop around before renewing your health plan

If you purchased a plan on the exchange last year then you will be re-enrolled in to the same plan for 2015 unless your insurance company stops offering your plan or you choose to purchase a new plan.  If you like the coverage you received you should still be sure to review your plan before renewing it, as the premiums, co-pays, and other aspects of your plan’s cost may have changed.  In other words, you may pay more than you did last year for the same plan, so be sure to review your plan and shop around.  There may also be new plans offered on beWellnm that are more affordable or better suit you and your family’s needs.

Sign up by December 15th if you want your coverage to start January 1st

While the enrollment period lasts through February 15th, you can start using your coverage at the beginning of 2015 if you sign up by December 15th.  If you wait until the end of the enrollment period to sign up for coverage, your insurance will kick in on March 1st, 2016.

The penalty for lacking insurance is higher than it was last year

If you don’t obtain some form of health coverage, you may have to pay a shared responsibility fee.  The penalty was the greater of $325 per adult or 2% of income in 2015.  This year the penalty has increased to the greater of $695 per adult or 2.5% of income.  You can avoid the penalty by enrolling in health coverage.

A hardship exemption exists for those who truly cannot afford insurance.  To see if you qualify for a hardship exemption, visit https://www.healthcare.gov/fees-exemptions/exemptions-from-the-fee/.

Health Action

The Benefits of Shopping on beWellnm.com

Finding a health insurance plan that’s right for you and your family is now easier and more affordable. Starting November 1, people all over New Mexico can sign up for coverage on beWellnm.com.

 

BeWellNM is a health insurance marketplace that offers:

  • financial help to reduce monthly premiums and the cost of seeing your doctor;
  • free enrollment assistance;
  • shopping tools that make it easy to find the right plan; and
  • robust competition to drive down premiums.  

Anyone who is currently uninsured or previously enrolled in a plan through the marketplace should visit beWellnm to check out their options. Plans and prices change every year, so you should shop around and make sure you’re finding the one that’s right for you.  Here is what you need to know about the beWellnm marketplace.

Protect yourself from the Unexpected

An accident or injury can happen any day. When it does, the last thing you should have to worry about is how to pay for your health care or taking on medical debt. On beWellnm, you can find a plan that keeps you covered, no matter what life throws at you.  All beWellnm plans cover doctor visits, hospital stays, prescriptions, preventive care and more.

Financial Help is Available

BeWellnm.com is the only place where you can get financial help to reduce the cost of coverage. Nearly three out of four New Mexicans enrolled in plans on beWellnm currently receive tax credits averaging $196 per month. That would be like completely eliminating your phone bill!  

You may also be eligible for financial help to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses.

Even if you’re already enrolled, you should check out your options to make sure you’re taking advantage of the financial help that is available and getting the best deal possible.  

Free Enrollment Assistance

BeWellNM.com offers free enrollment assistance to answer your questions and help walk you through the enrollment process.  To connect with an enrollment assister in your area, call Health Action New Mexico at (505) 322-2152.

Transparent Shopping Tools

Tools on beWellnm make the enrollment experience much easier for consumers.  The website calculates your tax credits and cost sharing reductions for you, allows you to compare plans side-by-side, features a map and list of providers who accept your insurance, and much more. This type of transparency gives you the peace of mind from knowing that you made a smart choice and isn’t often available through other health insurance websites.

More Competition = Lower Prices

A recent study found that plans sold on beWellnm and similar marketplaces in other states are more affordable for consumers, even without financial help.  BeWellNM has some of the lowest premiums in the nation and with tax credits those premiums are even lower.  That’s why, come November 1, beWellnm.com is the place to shop for affordable health coverage!

Want to know more? Over the next several weeks, Health Action New Mexico will be posting blogs that provide you with everything you need to know about the marketplace including real stories from consumers that received coverage through beWellnm. Stay tuned!

 

Health Action

October Newsletter

 

Thanks to all who made Health Action New Mexico’s 20th Anniversary such a special occasion.  It was such a joy to see the advocacy community together in one place to celebrate the spirit of the work we all do.  We would like to thank AARP of New Mexico, Delta Consulting, New Mexico Health Connections, and Presbyterian Health Plan for sponsoring the event.  

healthactionanniversary-196.jpg
Health Action NM's Board of Directors and Staff with Ron Pollack (Families USA)
 

20th Anniversary Video Produced by Blackout Theatre Company

Photographs by JAK Media

Congratulations from US Senator Tom Udall

Video Message from Retired US Senator Jeff Bingaman

Event Program 

healthactionanniversary-110.jpg

 

The Next Step in Health Reform

The expansion of health coverage has been nothing short of remarkable.  Nearly 300,000 people have gained access to health coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act.  As we help newly insured consumers navigate the health care system and use their coverage we must also turn our sights towards the quality of health care in New Mexico.

The New Mexico Department of Health and New Mexico Human Services Department have undertaken the enormous task of developing a strategy to achieve better health outcomes by innovating our health care delivery system.  Health Action New Mexico is garnering consumer input on the current draft of the state’s plan, which includes reforming how we pay doctors to incentivize keeping patients healthy, addressing the social determinants of health, and integrating behavioral and oral health in to primary care, among many other initiatives.  Health Action New Mexico looks forward to contributing to this monumental step towards a more patient and consumer oriented health care system.

 

Consumer Alerts: Open Enrollment Begins November 1st

The next window of time to purchase health coverage is just around the corner!  On November 1st, 2015 beWellNM.com will be open for shopping.  The open enrollment period ends on January 31st, 2016.  Advocates should take a look at Health Action New Mexico’s Private Market Enrollment Report to see the state of enrollment in our state.  

Here are 5 things for consumers to keep in mind: 

1) If you currently have a marketplace plan, it will remain active until the end of the year.

2) If you want your new coverage to kick in by January 1st, 2016 you need to sign up by December 15th, 2015.

3) The New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange (bewellnm.com or healthcare.gov) is the only marketplace where you can access premium tax credits and cost sharing reductions.

4) Even if you like your current plan, you should shop around to see if there is a more affordable plan or a plan that better meets your needs.

5) The shared responsibility penalty for lacking coverage in 2016 raises to the higher of $695 per person or 2.5% of income but the best reason to get covered is to keep you and your family healthy.

Blue Cross Blue Shield dropped out of the exchange for 2016 and New Mexico Health Connections dropped several plans.  If your 2015 plan is no longer available, the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance (OSI) is mobilizing a statewide roadshow to help consumers find plans that work for them. Click here to see when they will be in a town near you.

 

Dental Therapist Task Force

On October 2nd, Health Action New Mexico staff participated in the third in a series of four meetings in which the New Mexico Dental Hygienist Association panel, that includes Health Action New Mexico, and legislators, will again meet the New Mexico Dental Association panel with hopes of coming together to draft meaningful, effective dental therapist legislation for New Mexico.  It is not clear whether consensus will be achieved. Dental therapist supporters including dentists, hygienists, educators and community leaders have observed the task force meetings and are invited to attend the fourth meeting.  The date for the next task force meeting is yet to be determined and will be later this month or in early November.

 

From the Field

Victor Montoya and Joe Martinez are working in the Colonias and border areas to help people in those communities engage their neighbors in getting covered and finding ways to access care. “Without accessible health care coverage and services only prisons and poverty will flourish in the Colonias of New Mexico,” Last month, the outreach team also worked with our board president Erik Lujan to train advocates, nurses, and state employees in northern New Mexico on how to enroll individuals in Medicaid and the exchange.

Nohemy Bojorquez-Flores is gearing up for the open enrollment period and gathering stories from her community. “Open enrollment is just around the corner,” says Nohemy.  “I am reaching out to the community and keeping them informed!”

On October 15th and 16th from 9 AM to 5 PM, Health Action New Mexico hosted a free outreach workshop on health coverage with Enroll America at the Friends Meeting House.  An incredible group of advocates came together to craft our strategy for the upcoming open enrollment period.

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