Governor signs bills to improve health care access in New Mexico

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SANTA FE, N.M. — Friday was decision day for New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. It was the last day for the governor to sign bills passed by lawmakers during the legislative session.

Lujan Grisham had one of the top priorities of the session on her desk Friday morning – a fix to medical malpractice insurance rules to keep doctors from leaving New Mexico.

Doctors who owned independent outpatient clinics had said insurance simply wasn’t available because of limits that were the same as much larger hospitals. Lawmakers took a couple of swings to find a solution, eventually finding a late fix that the governor signed Friday.

Ultimately, the compromise that crossed the finish line was to create a separate coverage level for these providers – places like eye clinics, and x-ray and gastroenterology facilities.

The bill was part of a handful of laws designed to bolster health care around the state, including attracting and retaining doctors, and providing support to rural emergency rooms.

“A multitude of bills all stacked together that create better access, that preserve and reinvest in the medical community that’s here,” Lujan Grisham said. “That tells doctors and practitioners statewide, and hospitals, to come here.”

There’s also almost $100 million in the budget to pay doctors more for patients who are on Medicaid.

The medical malpractice legislation was a slow starter and reached almost a level of panic that involved the governor and lawmakers getting a major malpractice insurer on the phone late at night to guarantee they’d cover doctors at the new limit.

Bills related to health care signed Friday: