Find Out Friday Whether 50% Upfront Policy Stands or Falls

On Friday, Aug. 25, we will learn where UNM Hospital stands.

A month ago, Hospital leaders said they “stand ready” to fix problems they created by implementing the poorly conceived 50% Upfront for the Poor Policy. Since then, additional patients have come forward who couldn’t afford to pay thousands of dollars up front for a hysterectomy and a hernia repair. One little boy is waiting to get leg braces to ease the pain of his two club feet, without surgery that would cost a literal fortune. Will UNMH continue to stand behind this inhumane policy?

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UNM Hospital Shouldn't Charge the Poor 50% Upfront for Surgery

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Co-authored by Michelle Melendez, Director of EleValle and Dr. Anjali Taneja, MD, MPH, Executive Director of Casa de Salud

University of New Mexico Hospital is the state’s largest public hospital and most important safety net. As such, UNMH is entrusted with significant local tax revenue each year to be there for our families when we need medical or mental health care and have no where else to go.

That’s why it was so shocking and alarming when we started hearing from our patients in June that their surgeries were being cancelled because they couldn’t come up with 50% upfront.

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Zero-Sum Game Need Not Be Played

Just when I was about to start listing all the ways that Pathways could partner even more closely with UNM Hospitals to improve the health and wellness of people living in Bernalillo County, I was struck by the straw man argument put up by UNM Chancellor Paul Roth at a special budget meeting recently with the Bernalillo County Commission.

“I think Pathways is important, as well, but,”  he begins at a recent meeting. “We have requests from programs that are just as passionate. We want to be able to develop a comprehensive” this and that.

With its “extra money” Roth says the hospital must make a “Sophie’s Choice.” Deciding which of your children to let die is a “Sophie’s Choice.”

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Pathways Program Expansion Delayed by Fear

UNM Hospitals is unique in many ways.  For one, it has had the benefit of generous local property tax support for decades – a taxpayer subsidy that is not common across the country, even among public hospitals. This support helped buoy the hospital through extremely tough times prior to ObamaCare, when emergency rooms across the country were closing under the pressure of too many uninsured patients.

UNM Hospitals and Health Sciences Center is also unique in its approach to community health – through the Pathways to a Healthier Bernalillo County Program. Nowhere else in the nation does a public, academic hospital partner with so many trusted, community-based organizations to address the social needs of the county’s most vulnerable residents before they end up in the ER.

Now that the GOP's plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare raises the spectre of 14 million Americans losing their insurance coverage next year, UNM Hospitals is reticent to commit to continue supporting the Pathways partnership.

However, reacting with such alarmism is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. Prevention is needed now more than ever.

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A New Year Dawns

As the new director of EleValle, I have spent the first few months wrapping my arms around the enormous opportunity we have to make a greater difference together in our community. As with most aspirational work, there is a natural gap between what we say we do, and what we actually do. And that gap will narrow as we approach the elusive pinnacle of collaboration for social change. We have the right people, who share a forceful analysis, working diligently together to expand our organizational and community capacity for change. I'm extremely grateful for being given the opportunity to work alongside truly grassroots, integrated family health, mental health, community health and social justice leaders. Check out this video about where we work for justice!
Stay tuned. You haven't heard the last of EleValle. We are just getting started in the new era.

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A College Student’s Experience with the Health Exchange

What does it take for an uninsured college student to get signed up?

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La Cosecha Community Supported Agriculture Supports Local Farmers & Promotes Healthy Eating

Every year over 600,000 Americans die from heart disease.Twenty million people in the US are diagnosed with diabetes. The reality is that these high rates of chronic disease are preventable.

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Ready for Market: Enroll NM in 10 days!

If you’ve ever shopped for flights online, you probably know sites like Orbitz, Priceline, and Expedia. They’re easy to use. First you put in your travel dates and destinations. Then the website pulls up a list of options to choose from. Each of these options is organized in the same way: each option shows the name of the airline, the departure time, the arrival time, total travel time, number of stops, and the total price. This lets you compare flights based on what is most important to you.

Now imagine you can do this for health insurance.

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#EnrollNM: 20 days until a new day for healthcare!

It's a new day for health care in New Mexico! The biggest social change to happen in 50 years is coming – and it is starting in 20 days.

Thousands of New Mexicans will soon be able to get no-cost or low-cost health coverage for the first time. Enrollment starts on October 1, 2013, and we’re helping folks get ready. Over the next 20 days we are joining other groups on the #EnrollNM Team to count down to the big day. It is time to #EnrollNM!

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Giving South Valley Families ACCESS: Art Community Culture Education Science and Sports

"Sin miedo. Sin miedo!"  "Without fear, without fear!" A mother shouts at her young son who is running with the game ball towards the opposition's soccer goal. Every Monday and Wednesday families are coming together for an afternoon of fun in the park at 86th and Tower. This is one of many activities Fernando Ortega expects to organize through a new program called ACCESS.

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EleValle
Building a healthy community in the South Valley of ABQ