Kim Posich 1953-2017

A memorial will be held for Kim on Friday, August 18th at 6pm. Location and other details will be posted soon. Please check back on  for more information. 

Remembering Kim

Kim Posich, long-time Executive Director of the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, passed away on Sunday night at home. His family, the Center staff, and the community mourn the loss of such a tremendous social justice advocate.

Gail Evans, the Center’s Legal Director and his wife, wrote the following remembrance of Kim:

Kim was diagnosed with ALS in January of 2015. During these past few years, as his body steadily shut down, his mind, his humor, his grace, his patience, his appreciation of life did not. He continued to be a wonderful partner, parent, grandfather, friend, and colleague, contributing to the Center’s work until very recently, when he became more and more focused on the basics – breathing, eating, and drinking – all of which had become a real struggle.

Many of us loved and respected Kim. We loved his intellect; we loved his determination to build a more just world; we loved his persistent fight against poverty and injustice; we loved his appreciation for life, nature, a good joke, a good poem, and a good game, and we loved how much he loved. He truly was a beautiful man.

Please take a moment to appreciate the sky, the light, a flower growing in a crack in the sidewalk, and remember Kim. Be kind and understanding to someone you don’t know, or don’t like, and remember Kim. Say yes to someone in need who asks you for a favor, and remember Kim. Be inspired by the Freedom Riders and remember Kim. Take a bold move for justice, and remember Kim.

 

Kim at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty

Kim Posich served as Executive Director of the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty for 14 years, between 2002 and 2016. He joined the Center with a clear purpose: to transform the small but effective organization into the powerhouse of legal advocacy in New Mexico that it is today. In the ensuing years, he achieved that vision beyond what anyone could have imagined. He increased the Center’s budget by more than $1 million, grew the size of the Center’s staff by 300 percent, and expanded the issue areas in which the Center was engaged, all while staying true to the Center’s history and core values. The Center’s achievements under his tenure are too numerous to list, but a few highlights include:

  • Leading stakeholders from around the state in a successful campaign to expand Medicaid eligibility. This change extended healthcare coverage to over 250,000 adults who were not previously eligible.
  • Winning a landmark lawsuit extending workers’ compensation benefits to agricultural laborers.
  • Coordinating campaigns that brought $16 million of financial support to New Mexico’s civil legal services system—the “legal emergency room” for the poor.
  • Collaborating with community groups to persuade the University of New Mexico Hospital to stop charging uninsured, indigent patients 30 percent more than insured patients and requiring them to pay 50 percent of expected charges for some services in advance.
  • Arguing for improvements to the state’s administration of public benefits that resulted in hundreds of thousands of people getting assistance more effectively when they needed it.

As New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty Board Member John W. Boyd wrote:

Kim’s tireless work has resulted in accomplishments that have changed New Mexico law and improved our state in ways that make us very proud.

Rest well, Kim. We will miss you.

A Toast to Kim Posich!

A large crowd toasts to Kim.

Last month, we celebrated at Hotel Albuquerque by raising a glass with Kim Posich. As the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty’s Executive Director, Kim dedicated himself to increasing opportunities for low-income New Mexicans. It was wonderful to see so many of Kim’s friends, family, and colleagues come together to recognize the inspirational leadership of our long-time Executive Director.

NMCLP Board Member Regis Pecos gave a heartfelt toast on Kim’s impact to the community.

Thanks to everyone who attended the event!

 

Thanks again to our generous event sponsors!

Leader Circle
Paul Baca Court Reporters

Defender Circle
Ideum, Inc.
Brindle Foundation

Friend Circle
Con Alma Health Foundation
Coyte Law, P.C.
Rodey, Dickason, Sloan, Akin, & Robb, P.A.
Sheehan and Sheehan, P.A. 
Ambitions Consulting Group

ACTION ALERT: Call Governor Now to Prevent Budget Cuts

Your action is needed urgently –   the House and Senate just sent a tax package today to Governor Martinez to help avert more deep budget cuts that would further slash funding for our schools, healthcare and public safety agencies. New Mexico is facing school closures and further reduction to classrooms and teachers, the elimination of certain Medicaid services for low-income families and people with disabilities, and a worsening public safety crisis from under-resourcing our courts and other key agencies.

House Bill 202 makes responsible and overdue changes to the tax code, including to level the playing field for small businesses by taxing out of state internet sellers, close up tax loopholes for certain industries, and update the gas tax so the funds can be invested into our roads.

Please call the Governor’s office at 505-476-2200. Ask her to sign HB202, and not to veto any part of it. Let her know that New Mexicans will not accept more budget cuts and that you support this tax package as a fair solution that does not hurt our families.  It will only take a minute to leave a message.

Santa Fe New Mexican Editorial: Untangling the bureaucracy

Republished from the Santa Fe New Mexican. Read the original article here.

Outrageous. Shocking. Criminal?

That’s our reaction to testimony from Human Services Department caseworkers who claim that their bosses inflated the resources of needy people applying for emergency food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Why the bureaucratic fudging of paperwork? More assets (as little as $400) would mean the applicant no longer qualified for expedited help. New Mexico already faces sanctions for not processing aid claims fast enough; too many delays, and the department would be shown — again — that it is not complying with court directives. Thus, the incentive to lie.

We have long known that navigating federal programs, whether for food or medical help, in New Mexico is overly complex and burdensome. What last week’s hearing in federal Magistrate Court revealed is that in some cases, there appears to have been willful obstruction. The troublesome testimony came during a motion hearing asking for the Human Services Department to be held in contempt of court for not complying with a 25-year-old consent decree. The 1991 order came out of a 1988 lawsuit — obviously, the troubles in the department predate even the last two governors.

The New Mexico Center for Law and Poverty claims that New Mexico is illegally denying and closing off food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, what used to be known as food stamps. Five workers in the Income Support Division from different parts of the state all agreed they had been told that if they couldn’t meet a seven-day deadline for emergency food assistance, they were to pass the file to a supervisor. At that point, the boss could modify the file so the applicant wasn’t eligible for emergency help. Using delays, the state could process the claim and not miss a deadline — that would help the department’s numbers on federal audits.

These workers — who fear retaliation over testimony and should be protected — deserve praise for speaking out. One 10-year employee from Taos even kept notes on an original application; a supervisor reportedly later added $400 in “phantom” assets, but the original file contains a different story, according to testimony. The problems aren’t alleged to occur just with SNAP, but also in processing Medicaid applications.

New Human Services Department Secretary Brent Earnest tried to argue in the daylong hearing that the complexity of federal regulations and an overwhelmed department are at the root of problems with processing applications; he’s likely right, and we believe he is trying to correct the situation. He inherited the mess. But the fact remains that New Mexico cannot run its federal assistance programs in compliance with the law. That’s been apparent for years.

What happens next is up to federal Magistrate Carmen Garza, who was assigned the case by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Gonzales a year ago. We agree with lawyers who want more oversight over the state’s benefits process. Medicaid and SNAP recipients do not deserve the runaround. They deserve to be treated with respect and to receive — in a timely fashion — the help they are due. That the state is an obstacle to assistance, rather than making aid possible, needs to change.

Appointment of an independent monitor is the right step now, especially over the troubled Income Support Decision. We understand Earnest’s concerns that such a monitor diverts money from directly helping the poor; that’s an important point. However, the dysfunctions in the department have to be untangled. That means direction from outside to streamline the process; the fallback, so far as federal law allows, must be to approve applications rather than seek to deny. That a department already failing to process basic applications wants to add more paperwork — through new, unnecessary work requirements — demonstrates the department does not have the best interests of the needy at heart. Independent oversight is needed.

The contempt hearing and any decision on oversight should not be the end of this matter, either. Both the attorney general or the U.S. attorney, after hearing this testimony, should investigate charges that workers are being encouraged to delay applications, even to the point of supervisors falsifying assets. That’s fraud, pure and simple, if allegations can be proved. State Auditor Tim Keller announced his own investigation Friday. Something is rotten in the Human Services Department — and that core disregard for the law and the human dignity of aid recipients won’t be repaired without vigorous, independent oversight.

Want to read another editorial about this issue?
Albuquerque Journal: HSD must clean up its act to avert a federal takeover