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     SANTA ROSA--A house on 8th Street had a portion of its roof blown off this past weekend.
     Gusty winds, which pelted Santa Rosa and the surrounding area, were responsible for blowing debris and some minor damages.

Making the money mousetrap work

    SANTA ROSA--It has been a busy time for the three local legislators in Santa Fe as Josť Campos, representing parts of Guadalupe county makes his freshman year in the New Mexico house a quiet one, while Benjie Regensberg, in a realigned house district which includes parts of the county has been hard at work with more than 100 House bills, resolutions and memorials to his credit.

    Senator Pete Campos, who does represent all of Guadalupe County, was seeking $250,000 from the state general fund to be given to the New Mexico department of health to "pay for the continuation of the receivership operation of the Los Amigos Nursing Home."

    Some of Representative Campos' brighter moments are the introduction of several House bills, which have co-sponsors, as most do. Nevertheless, Campos introduced some memorable bills for consideration such as the Amber Alert Systems; an increase in the Ninth Judicial Court district; a bill regarding Municipal Income Tax distribution and House Joint Memorial 47 titled Corrections Industries Enterprise Expansion.

    Campos, mayor of Santa Rosa, did not overlook Vaughn in the pork trough as he introduced Capital Improvements for the town with $300,000 earmarked for road improvements; $140,000 for the Town Hall; $300,000 for replacement of the swimming pool and $54,000 for the repairs to the town ambulance facility.

    As of press time, there were no bills introduced for the benefit of Santa Rosa with the exception of the emergency funding by Senator Campos for the Los Amigos Nursing Home, introduced by Mayor Campos for consideration.

    Regensberg on the other hand, took his turn at trying to change some laws in New Mexico with the introduction of such legislative actions as: Additional means for punishment of death; a very controversial parental notification act; changing court proceeding for custody orders; changing inspection of slaughtered livestock; modifying the violation of fishing with two rods; extend Childrens Code short-term commitment; modifying Workers Comp Waiver & Medicaid payments; and modifying the nonresident hunting license availability.

   Along with other bills, Regensberg has introduced House Joint Memorials such as: Exchanging land grant info with Spain & Mexico; as well as granting treason pardons for land grant defenders.

   Some of the pork improvements Regensberg introduced benefiting the area include improvements to Conchas Lake and Big Mesa roads in San Miguel county; as well as introducing a bill purchasing and installing playground equipment at Joe Gutierrez park in Santa Rosa.

   The pork wishes of Senator Campos are much the same with a bill which will benefit the health care of Anton Chico and Dilia with the introduction of a bill for improvements to the health centers of Northern New Mexico.

     He also introduced a bill for the planning, designing, constructing and equipping a water system for the community of Pastura in Guadalupe County; as well as Capital Improvement projects for the Puerto de Luna Senior Center.

     In order to aid Mayor Campos chances of funding for Vaughn cousin Pete introduced a similar bill for the Capital Improvement Projects in Vaughn.

Agreement reached on higher Medicare payments for doctors

     WASHINGTON--Congressional negotiators have agreed to increase Medicare payments to doctors by nearly $49 billion over the next 10 years, avoiding a scheduled March 1 pay cut that could have driven thousands of physicians out of the program, U.S. Representative Tom Udall (D-NM) confirmed Tuesday. A flaw in the Medicare physician fee formula reduced doctor's fees 5.4% in 2002, and was scheduled to reduce them by another 4% in March.

     "I'm pleased that we were able to provide temporary relief for our dedicated doctors and their Medicare patients, but this, by itself, will not solve our health care concerns in New Mexico," Udall said. "Continued cuts in reimbursement to doctors will only lead to higher overall costs in our health care system because seniors will have trouble finding doctors.  This is a travesty, considering these Americans paid into Medicare, with the guarantee that health care services would be available to them. These shortfalls are also forcing doctors, who in my state often serve rural, underserved areas, to choose between service or abandoning their patients due to lack of funding and reimbursement. We cannot expect doctors to stay in the profession of treating Medicare beneficiaries when they are losing revenue at record levels.

     The Medicare agreement was attached to a $395 billion omnibus appropriations measure for fiscal year 2003.  Included in the long-delayed measure, which funds most federal departments and agencies through September, is a package that will provide $600 million more in Medicare payments to hospitals in rural areas. The spending measure is expected to be finalized later this month.

     Medicare is a nationwide program which offers health insurance protection for 40 million aged and disabled persons.  Medicare law specifies a formula for calculating the annual update in payments for physician services. The formula has resulted in an actual negative update in payments per service for both 2002 and 2003. Udall said he has heard from many constituents that are reporting trouble obtaining a doctor because of the cut.

     Udall said the issue should have been resolved last year. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives attached a Medicare "giveback" measure in the chamber's prescription drug bill. That bill went nowhere, and doctors have been forced to wait for months to see what, if any, action would take place.

     According to the American Medical Association (AMA), if Congress failed to provide more Medicare reimbursement funding, New Mexico physicians' losses would have totaled around $41 million.  Since elderly patients tend to require costly tests and treatments, Udall said many doctors would likely either consider moving their practices out of state or retiring all together.  The AMA also painted a grim picture of many practices laying off staff or foregoing scheduled pay raises, exacerbating staffing shortages in many health care areas.

     Udall vowed to keep working to avoid more "band-aid" solutions like this and hopes Congress will focus on more long-term solutions plaguing the access and delivery of health care in the United States.

     "While I am glad that we have temporarily corrected the 'glitch' that was going to hurt seniors and their doctors, there are many more health care issues to address in this session of Congress. We need to correct the reimbursement formulas that Medicare issues that penalize New Mexico. Rural states are hurt by the current system and there must be equity. We also need to add a prescription drug benefit as a part of Medicare.  I look forward to working with my colleagues to address all these challenges," Udall said.



      SANTA ROSA--David Montoya Construction, Inc. of Albuquerque will be awarding four scholarships to high school seniors living or attending school in Santa Rosa and the immediate surrounding area. Interested parties have until March 31 to apply for one of the three $500 scholarships and one $250 scholarship.

     The scholarships are for local students graduating fall 2002 or spring 2003.

     The company announced the scholarships are in appreciation and for the cooperation of all Santa Rosa residents during their work on the Route 66 project.

     Similarly, last year Montoya offered scholarships to Espanola students. They did so to thank the Espanola Valley community for support during their work on the reconstruction of Highway 285/84 just north of Espanola.

     Elizabeth Lucero, Santa Rosa High School Counselor told the News earlier this week, On behalf of Santa Rosa High School, we are grateful for this generous contribution by David Montoya Construction. 

     She continued, David Montoya Construction has taken the initiative to offer these scholarships as a contribution to benefiting education within our district.

     This monetary gift by Montoya Construction is unique in that they are a firm based outside the immediate Santa Rosa area. The Albuquerque firm has offered scholarships before, but never to students in Santa Rosa.

      David Montoyas mother died in 1995, and her emphasis on education motivated Montoyawho grew up in Alamedato offer scholarships in her honor, said Pam Montoya, Davids wife. Last year David decided he wanted to do something for the community in which he works and the scholarship is just a thank you, she concluded.

     The Santa Rosa scholarships advertise for students with a 2.4 grade point average but students with a lower average should not be discouraged from applying.

    riginally Montoya offered one $1,500 scholarship, but after the New Mexico lottery scholarship came into effect, the scholarship was broken into several smaller amounts.

      A lot of time its those kids who are just average who dont get scholarships, Pam Montoya said. If students feel like theyre worthy but dont have the grade point average, they should still apply, she concluded.

      Interested students can obtain an application from Elizabeth Lucero, Santa Rosa High School Counselor. Mrs. Lucero added, We commend and thank David Montoya Construction and want them to know the Santa Rosa Consolidated School District and our students sincerely appreciate their gift to education within our district.