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Big day, big opportunity

Whew! What a whirlwind over the past 24 hours. I'm still reeling from the Texas state senate being the most exciting thing to watch ever, and now SCOTUS taking the side of equality. But we're still looking ahead to even more exciting opportunities to make history!

With 96 days left until open enrollment for the new Health Insurance Marketplace, hundreds of thousands of people still don't know what's coming. I had a chat with local comedian Sarah Kennedy last night about what all this means for New Mexico. Check us out!

Medicaid Live Hangout with Danielle from HANM!, by ClearlySK
Health Action

We partied on for health care

 

Danielle unveils the new website, by danielle

 

So, first things first: you found our new website. Good job!

We've been working hard since January to get a new website up and running, and finally got a chance to celebrate with our Website Launch party on May 16th. The event was a blast, and we had everyone from Senator Shendo to enthusiastic community members in attendance.

 

You can find the key features of the website on your own by surfing through, but I'd like to draw your attention to a few key parts:

  • People from across the state can submit the stories of their experiences with health care, as well as read others' stories on our interactive map view.
  • 5 separate RSS feeds let you stay up-to-date on the news items that matter most to you - for example, the Marketplace Watch tracks all implementation of the new Health Insurance Marketplace (aka "Exchange") in New Mexico.
  • You can now donate ONLINE, including setting up recurring donations, by clicking on the "Donate" button on the top of each page.

Our goal with the new website is to create a central place where all information on health care reform in New Mexico is stored. Health reform is a huge, complicated topic, and communication about all the different parts can get tricky. We are working hard to make this site easy to read, easy to navigate, and easy to find all of the information that matters most to you.

Folks at our website launch party enjoyed live music by Sherri Gonzales, Ron Hale, and Marsha McMurray-Avila, including a new song on health reform that Marsha wrote specially for the event.

Sherri Gonzales and Ron Hale performing some live blues music, by danielle
 

Special thanks goes to our sponsors: La Montañita Co-Op, Flying Star Cafe & Satellite Coffee, and The Grove Cafe & Market. And a big thank you to all those who attended and made this a great event!

Lots of opportunities to meet new people at our website launch party, by danielle
Health Action

It’s a New Day for Health Care in New Mexico!

 

P1000096.JPG
San Miguel Medicaid outreach event, by danielle
 

May 3, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. found me driving through miles of pecan groves in the southern part of New Mexico. I was heading to our first event in a series we are hosting this summer through Health Action New Mexico (HANM) – cultural learning events aimed at educating communities about their new health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act. I wasn’t sure what to expect; believe it or not, it can be difficult to get people really excited about attending an event where the main topic is health insurance.

Our first of these events was scheduled to be held in San Miguel, a small village in Doña Ana county. I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by over a hundred happy, welcoming faces ready to celebrate the Cinco de Mayo and to hear about the new day for health care in New Mexico! This wonderful turnout was an accomplishment by our co-host for the event, Concilio Campesino, a non-profit organization that offers community services to residents in southern New Mexico. 

The program first included upbeat, celebratory music to commemorate el Cinco de Mayo, with snacks of fresh fruit, baked breads, coffee, and bottled water.  Then, after welcoming of all present by the Concilio Campesino team, we did a brief power point presentation narrated in Spanish of what is going to be offered under the Medicaid Expansion and the Health Insurance Marketplace.  This presentation was done as an introduction, providing the basics of who is eligible, how to apply, and how to get help if a challenge occurs during enrollment.  We also introduced a plan where there will be a "You Are Not Alone" committee of local community leaders to help those applying for enrollment in either of these programs to overcome any obstacle that they may encounter during enrollment periods.    There was a question and answer period as a part of the presentation, where many participants got to ask their questions.   We closed the event with a return to the celebratory activities of music and interchange among friends.

The event was fantastic. In addition to the great turnout, I appreciated the welcoming attitude that was displayed by the participants, the enthusiasm to learn about the health options being described, the interest to ask questions, and the commitment expressed by many to share information with others.  

Group photo at HANM's Medicaid outreach event in San Miguel
Group photo at HANM's Medicaid outreach event in San Miguel, by danielle

 

Our key strategy in these community events is to share factual information presented in the simplest, most actionable terms possible. We want to empower residents to determine for themselves who may be eligible, how to apply, and how to get help if necessary. Everyone took home checklists that walk through seeing if you are eligible for these new health insurance options, so they can take their health care into their own hands.

25% of New Mexicans are uninsured or underinsured. 170,000 people will be eligible for Medicaid Expansion in New Mexico, and another 200,000 for the Health Insurance Marketplace (aka “Exchange”). At HANM we are hosting these cultural learning events throughout the state to bring greater awareness of these health insurance options to communities around the state. If our first event is any indication, people are excited to find out about the changes that are occurring, and empowered to make healthy decisions for themselves and their families.

Our next event is Saturday, May 18th, 3:00 – 5:00pm, at the Beatrice Martinez Senior Center: 730 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park Road, Española NM. Featuring live musical guest Miguel Timoteo. Come celebrate a new day in health care with us!

Health Action

HB 17 wrap-up & next steps

Dental Therapist-Hygienist HB 17 has reached its final destination for 2013, and we are already working on next steps.

Last night the House Business and Industry Committee heard HB 17 for 2 1/2 hours - a good chunk of time, this late in the session. The committee directed that the HB 17 sponsor and representatives meet with the sponsor and representatives of the New Mexico Dental Association (NMDA) dental therapy bill after the session, before the interim committees begin in May. The meetings will help us continue to work for legislation that has a positive impact on the oral health crisis in New Mexico. So while there was no vote in the committee, there was a great discussion that yielded concrete next steps that can be taken.

Earlier this week, HB 17 companion bill SB 567 was tabled in the Senate Public Affairs Committee. The votes were as follows - Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto was not present for the vote. We encourage community members to contact their legislator if they are unsatisfied with a voting decision.

At Health Action NM, we are proud of the progress and advocacy that occurred during the 2013 session. There was a big increase in awareness of the dental care crisis in NM, as well as in the solution that dental therapy can offer. We need to continue this education process and get more people on board, including Gov. Susanna Martinez.

We couldn't have done it without the support of many allies. A big thank you to:

  • Our bill sponsors, Rep. Dennis Roch (R) and Sen. Carlos Cisneros (D).
  • Other state advocacy groups who are also working hard to make dental therapy a reality in their states.
  • The many local dentists and dental hygienists who stood up with us to promote dental therapy as an optimal solution to NM's dental care needs.
  • All of our endorsers, community members, groups, and organizations alike.
  • All those community members who attended the various committee hearings and called their legislators in support of this bill.

Stay in touch with us to hear more about what you can be doing to keep building awareness on this solution to New Mexico's dental care crisis. There is much work to be done!

Word of Mouth

Last Chance for HB 17

We just received notice that our bill HB 17 for Dental Therapist-Hygienist Licensure has finally been scheduled to be heard by the House Business & Industry Committee TODAY, March 7 at 1:30 p.m. in Room 309.

Thank you for all of your calls to the Roundhouse - they really helped us get this bill heard!

The New Mexico Dental Association's (NMDA) bill to delay dental therapist-hygienists in NM by 8-10 years will also be heard in this committee today, same time and place. The dentists will be present at the committee in force. We need your attendance to help us support HB 17 for New Mexican families, and oppose the NMDA bill which stalls solutions to New Mexico's oral health crisis for almost another decade.

The senate companion bill to HB 17 was tabled in the Senate Public Affairs Committee on Tuesday. The opposition effectively used misinformation to create unjustified concerns on the part of some committee members. They also portrayed the nonprofit organizations supporting this bill as "well meaning but misguided."

This is therefore our last chance to get our bill heard in committee. It is a challenging committee, whose chair person's personal dentist is the former president of the NMDA and has been one of the strongest dental therapy opponents in NM. However, it is a committee with several new committee members as well.

HB 17 is a solution to our dental care crisis that also emphasizes cultural competency, is homegrown, and is community based. Let's not let this chance slip through our fingers.

Please attend House Business & Industry today at 1:30 p.m. to support HB 17, and stand up for a solution that will help families today - not push the issue to the back burner. We need your support.

Word of Mouth

History of Success

Dental therapy has a history of success around the globe. We mentioned one great review of the evidence here, if you don't want to take our word for it.

As former Senator Dede Feldman put it, HB 17/SB 567 is "a common sense bill." It is common sense not only in the positive impacts it would have on New Mexico, but also in the strong history of dental therapy success that has been established on a global scale.

SB 567 will be heard in the Senate Public Affairs Committee today. The committee starts at 2pm in room 321. If you're able, please attend to show your support. If not, please consider calling the committee members to urge them to pass this bill.

We are moving forward!

Word of Mouth

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