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Oct. 7 First News: Think Tank Suggests Health Care Price and Quality Comparison Website (Listen)

An independent think tank is recommending New Mexico establish a website that provides consumers with information about the cost of medical procedures and quality of care at hospitals. In a new report, Think New Mexico said 13 states, including Arizona and Colorado, have websites allowing health care price comparisons by consumers and employers. The group plans to push the proposal when the Legislature meets next year and says more price transparency could help make health care more affordable. Todd Sandman of Presbyterian Healthcare Services said Monday it "makes a lot of sense" to provide more information on pricing and health care quality so consumers can make better choices about their medical services. But he said the health care provider hasn't endorsed any of the report's specific proposals.

Republican Governor Susana Martinez and Democratic challenger Gary King squared off Monday in a Spanish-language debate aimed at the state's Hispanic voters. The debate marked a growing trend nationwide with more candidates agreeing to Spanish-language debates as the Latino voting bloc grows. The two met Monday evening in a KLUZ-TV Univision-sponsored forum for their second debate. Martinez answered her questions in Spanish, while King participated through an interpreter. Both sparred over the economy, education and a state law that allows immigrants in the country illegally to have a driver's license. According to the U.S. Census, around 47 percent of the state's population is Latino — the largest percentage of any state.

Today is the last day that you can register to vote in time for Election 2014. New Mexicans today can start casting ballots in general election races although Election Day remains several weeks away. Voters can go to their county clerk's office starting today to cast ballots. Early voting will expand to more locations on Oct. 18 when counties open satellite polling places across the state. Election Day is Nov. 4. Four years ago when New Mexico voters last elected a governor, 49 percent of ballots were cast before Election Day with absentee and early voting. Election Day voting accounted for the remainder of balloting.

A budget squeeze threatens San Juan County's treatment program for drug and alcohol abusers.  KSFR's Dave Marash has the story. ***** :55 Q: Std *****

People who want to take trips to outer space from southern New Mexico will also be offered lodging in Truth or Consequences and “eco-safaris” on media mogul Ted Turner’s two sprawling ranches. Virgin Galactic announcing Monday its expansion of lodging and entertainment options for passengers taking flight from the New Mexico Spaceport. Turner’s two southern New Mexico ranches cover more than 800 square miles. Spaceport America, the world's first dedicated spaceport, is in a remote area, and the lack of luxury lodging has been an issue. Virgin Galactic announced earlier this year it selected Hotel Encantado de Las Cruces as the preferred hotel for its customers, who will pay 250-thousand dollars a person to make the flights from the spaceport.

A New Mexico man is facing charges after authorities say he stole thousands of dollars in beef jerky. Mark Torres was charged last week with embezzlement stemming from an Old Santa Fe Trail Co. delivery van heist. According to investigators, the stolen van was found at Torres' Tijeras residence in June. Authorities say investigators also discovered hundreds of boxes of jerky inside his home. A Metro Court criminal complaint says Torres is charged with embezzling thousands of dollars from Old Santa Fe Trail Co. — which sells jerky and other products — by falsifying invoices to collect higher commissions. Authorities say Torres is a former employee of the company. He was ordered held on a 35-thousand dollar bond.

Santa Fe Weather: Partly sunny today and tomorrow with highs in the mid-70s. Tonight: mostly cloudy with the overnight low, 47.