Mar. 20 First News: N.M. Medicaid Expansion Exceeds 100,000 (Listen)
Governor Susana Martinez's administration reports that about 103-thousand low-income New Mexicans have enrolled in Medicaid since the state expanded who qualifies for the health care program last year. The Albuquerque Journal reports that the state is on track to meet projections that about 130-thousand people will gain medical coverage during the first year of the Medicaid expansion. The Medicaid expansion was provided for under a federal health care overhaul law that also allows uninsured individuals to buy medical insurance through an online marketplace. About 15-thousand New Mexicans have signed up for health insurance plans through the federally operated health insurance exchange from October through February.
The union that represents the largest number of public workers in New Mexico—the American Federation of State, County and Municipal employees—is calling Governor Martinez' desire to have the state stop withholding union dues from paychecks a “declaration of war.” The Albuquerque Journal reports that Martinez is pressing to end dues withdrawals, saying the unions use the money to attack her administration. The Republican governor raised the issue this week while criticizing teachers unions for opposing her administration's policy initiatives.
Santa Fe's Tomasita's restaurant is hoping to generate more than half of its electricity with a new solar photovoltaic parking structure and provide a plug-in power spot for an electric vehicle. The New Mexican reports the popular Santa Fe Railyard eatery recently installed 210 solar panels that form a grid-tied system. The restaurant's owner and manager, George Gundrey, says the system is designed to produce 85-percent of the restaurant's electricity between the peak power-use hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. The restaurant expects the payoff on the system's 325-thousand dollar price tag to take seven years after the tax credit.
Three New Mexico pueblos are getting money to improve transit services. U-S Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have announced that the Isleta, Jemez and Santa Ana pueblos are getting nearly 308-thousand dollars from the Federal Transit Administration to improve public transportation. The Pueblo of Jemez is getting money to buy a bus and begin the Jemez Flex-Ride Coordinated Transportation System. The Pueblo of Santa Ana is getting funding to replace an old bus, while the Pueblo of Isleta's grant will fund a study to identify needs surrounding a potential transit service. Udall says the services are needed to help people get to work, school, and doctors' appointments.
News reports earlier this month concerning the El Niño watch recently issued by the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center, such as one headlined: “Here comes El Niño; good news for U-S weather woes” are a bit misleading. So says Deirdre Kann at the Albuquerque National Weather Service Office. Kann says the CPC's watch only means that conditions are favorable for an El Niño weather pattern—a pattern that often means greater precipitation for New Mexico—and that the chances are for an El Niño are merely 50-50.*****032014-Kann-2 :35***** Kann expects climate forecasters to have a better idea if an El Niño is truly forming a couple of months from now.
Santa Fe Weather: Sunny today with a high near 60. Expect partly cloudy skies tonight with a low of 32. Tomorrow Sunny and a high of 61.