During a public meeting held by the Human Services Department last week, healthcare authorities discussed a set of proposed changes to the state's Medicaid program that would result in patients having to pay copays and premiums. The meeting was held at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, and the proposal drew criticism from attending citizens, who voiced concerns over the ability of low-income patients to meet the financial demands of extended copays and the introduction of premiums. Some also opposed the elimination of transitional and retroactive coverage. Under the HSD's proposed changes, the state will charge monthly premiums ranging from $10 to $50 depending on household income, copays for doctor visits will cost $5, inpatient and outpatient surgery will cost $50 a day and prescription drugs would cost $2 to $8. If a recipient fails to pay premiums for 90 days, they risk losing coverage. Medicaid covers more than 40 percent of the population in New Mexico. According to reports, state Medicaid costs could grow to $82 million next year due to policy changes in federal funding.
APS to Appoint New Board Member
Four candidates are looking to fill the vacant Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education seat. Last month, Analee Maestas resigned from her position on the board following allegations of embezzlement at a charter school she helped found. Earlier in the year, State Attorney General Hector Balderas threatened legal action against Maestas when an investigation into La Promesa Early Learning Center uncovered that Maestas' daughter—La Promesa's assistant business manager—had embezzled around $700,000 from the school. Some of the theft happened during Maestas' tenure as Executive Director at the school. The APS board will now have to select a new member on Nov. 13 after conducting public interviews with the candidates. The new board member will serve through 2019, the remainder of the term. They will officially take office Nov. 15 and will represent District 1.
Chief Eden Announces Retirement
Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden announced his retirement last weekend, effective at the end of November. The announcement was sent in an email to Eden’s colleagues. According to the email, the chief made his decision to retire in March. He thanked all the “outstanding” officers for their “great work” as well as thanking the department's civilian staff. Eden's time as Police Chief was marred by controversy. Within weeks of starting the job in 2014, Eden was faced with national news coverage following the infamous Boyd shooting—in which two officers shot a homeless man in the Foothills. Soon after, the US Department of Justice announced that due to APD's consistent use of excessive force, it would be stepping in to enforce reforms. Eden is leaving now as the city faces one of its worst crime epidemics. Eden will serve as chief until the new mayoral administration takes office Dec. 1. Both mayoral candidates have said that they would not retain Eden as Police Chief.