On Friday, June 15, the Community Access Program of Central New Mexico will host a forum at the Albuquerque Hilton Hotel to work to improve healthcare access statewide. Keynote speakers will include J. Alex Valdez, cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Department of Health; New Mexico State Senator Linda M. Lopez; and R. Philip Eaton, M.D., vice president of health sciences at the University of New Mexico.

The forum will focus on a number of goals including: establishing universal access to community-responsive healthcare, integrating healthcare ""safety net provider"" systems, and creating a sustainable statewide service and financing system model for the uninsured.

In response to the needs of the medically underserved in New Mexico, seven healthcare organizations have formed a consortium to address this issue. The participating ""safety net provider"" organizations are First Choice Community Healthcare, Inc.; University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center; First Nation's Community HealthSource; Albuquerque HealthCare for the Homeless, Inc; Indian Health Service; New Mexico Department of Health; and Presbyterian Medical Services.

The consortium recently received a $900,000 grant from Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Community Access Program of Central New Mexico grant (CAP-NM) is being used to improve the health status of the estimated 125,000 uninsured and underinsured people in Bernalillo, Torrance, Sandoval and Valencia counties.

CAP-NM will build upon already successful initiatives such as the UNM Care managed care for the uninsured plan, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded Community Voices/Shared Solutions, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-sponsored New Mexico State Coverage Initiative.

""The needs of the medically underserved in New Mexico are staggering. New Mexico has one of the highest uninsured rates in the U.S., it has one of the lowest per capita incomes, and 29 of 33 counties are designated as 'Medically Underserved Areas' and 'Health Profession Shortage Areas.'"" said CAP-NM Co-Principle Investigator Arthur Kaufman, M.D., chair of family and community medicine at the UNM School of Medicine.

""Every uninsured person in New Mexico deserves their own provider, a clinical home and needs a financial mechanism to assure the needed care. We must strengthen the New Mexico safety net,"" said CAP-NM Co-Principle Investigator Bob DeFelice, CEO of First Choice Community Health, Inc.


Contact: HSC Public Affairs, 272-3322