On August 14, the Rio Arriba Community Health Council will hold All Things Medicaid, our first ever Twitter Town Hall. The hashtag for the event is #HealthierNM.  Some of my readers know that I went to Netroots Nation this year to learn how to put together a Twitter Town Hall to help my community, which is tucked away in the Rocky Mountains, communicate without the mediation of outside press. Momsrising members like Elisa Batista (@elisabatista) and Dr. Kim Ellis (@drgoddess) showed me the ropes as per the video link below.

I came home and began putting together what I thought would be a very nice Medicaid enrollment campaign. I asked Congressman Ben Ray Lujan to moderate a Twitter Town Hall. I would train local residents to tweet in their questions about new programs. He and a panel of Medicaid experts would tweet back answers. Here are the new programs available under the Affordable Care Act. Here's who's eligible. Here's how you enroll.

Nice and easy, like eating cotton candy. Right?

Turns out, things were a little more complicated. A few weeks ago, after plans for the Twitter Town Hall had been finalized, Sidonie Squier, the NM HSD director suddenly announced a bold new direction that was not received well by our community, nor, it seems, by anyone east of Arizona or west of Texas. Claiming "widespread and egregious fraud" on the part of all 15 of New Mexico's large behavioral health providers, she terminated their funding and simultaneously pulled five expensive contracts for replacement firms from Arizona out of a hat. So far, she has not released any of the findings of the secret report she commissioned that lead to the shut down, so nobody knows what constitutes her claims of fraud.

The result has been pandemonium. Our community has seen substantial lay-offs, and masses of people have gathered in public buildings to express their opinion about the sudden disruption. One legislative hearing became so heated that a state Senator was evacuated to the hospital after he burst a blood vessel.

The uproar has caused locals to want to learn to use Twitter. Daniele Boudreau (@elleBoudreau) of Health Action New Mexico (@HealthActionNM) came up to EspaƱola last week and conducted three trainings to different groups on the use of Twitter. We all sat around and practiced tweeting questions on topics like "will Medicaid now cover men?" to one another using the hashtag #HealthierNM. We had fun.

My Twitter Town Hall enrollment exercise has unexpectedly become a big, possibly controversial deal. It will be hosted by Congressman Ben R Lujan (@repbenraylujan) from 10 am to 11 am MST on August 14 at the Rio Arriba Health  Commons in EspaƱola, NM. Our panel of experts includes Attorney General Gary King, State Senator Linda Lopez, Dr. Dale Alverson from the state Insurance Exchange, Julie Weinberg, the state Medicaid Director, Diana McWilliams, the state Behavioral Health Director, and Dave Roddy, Director of the New Mexico Primary Care Association. Radio KDCE (950 am in NM) will be live-webcasting the event to about 50,000 New Mexicans. @ProgressNowNM is helping us to organize the town hall. I encourage all of you to tune in!

Health Action NM is coming out on August 8 to teach our health council members to tweet so we can participate. The hashtag for the event is #HealthierNM. Our local paper has suddenly decided that the Twitter Town hall is a criminal enterprise masterminded by Rio Arriba's most nefarious arch-villain: me! So I am also working to remind my colleagues that they have the right to tell their own story in their own words to whomever they choose, and they may ask any friends they want to help them, regardless of their political persuasion. This is a pretty easy sell since they are already determined to begin finding ways to communicate without the help of people who hold them in contempt.

I would like help from my readers, allies and friends outside of New Mexico.

One of the wonders of Twitter is its versatility. We can use it to live tweet town halls, or to speak directly to the public next time some natural disaster hits. Twitter is also a wonderful way to build relationships with like-minded people who live far away.

Our local live-tweeting team are mostly new users who have no followers. We want to invite you to help us make ourselves heard. Please communicate with us about Medicaid. You can tweet questions and comments beginning August 8 using the hashtag #HealthierNM. And of course, we'd be utterly thrilled if you retweeted our questions and comments and got your friends to do the same.

The following partners are helping to boost our signal:


The hashtag for the event is #HealthierNM.

Thank you!

Originally posted to TheFatLadySings on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 07:29 AM PDT.

Also republished by DKos TWEETers, New Mexico Kossaks, and Kossacks Tweet Too hashtag kt2.

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