Gov. Lujan Grisham announces bipartisan legislation to establish Rural Health Care Delivery Fund
SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday announced the introduction and progress of bipartisan legislation creating a new fund that will support rural facilities and providers across New Mexico and improve access to health care for thousands of New Mexicans.
Sponsored by Senator Liz Stefanics and Representative Gail Armstrong, Senate Bill 7 creates the Rural Health Care Delivery Fund, designed to provide support for rural health care delivery in parts of New Mexico often underserved by available health care options. The fund will support newly constructed providers and facilities that provide new or expanded health care services in counties with fewer than 100,000 residents by defraying operating losses or up to five years. The legislation was approved by the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee on Monday with bipartisan support.
“Expanding rural health care delivery not only benefits New Mexicans in rural communities, it benefits every single New Mexican by increasing provider access statewide,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “With the creation of the Rural Health Care Delivery Fund, we will provide critical support to hospitals, providers and communities across New Mexico and improve health care delivery to thousands of New Mexicans.”
The Rural Health Care Delivery Fund will support both the establishment of new health care facilities or providers and the expansion of services at existing rural facilities, improving rural health care delivery and supporting rural providers in their capacities as economic drivers in their communities – providing job opportunities, connecting people with other critical resources, and purchasing local goods and services. An initial appropriation of $200 million to the fund, a central aspect of Gov. Lujan Grisham’s executive budget recommendation, would be managed through the New Mexico Human Services Department.
“This funding will provide support for our rural healthcare facilities and providers across the state, giving them the ability to expand services like behavioral health, prenatal services, dialysis, rehab, and any number of other much-needed care offerings currently out of reach to too many New Mexicans,” said Senator Stefanics. “I would like to thank Governor Lujan Grisham for recognizing this need and asking me to bring forth this legislation.”
“Rural New Mexicans have been struggling with a lack of health care options for decades,” said Representative Gail Armstrong. “As a representative from the largest district in New Mexico, I can attest to the struggles rural New Mexicans face in finding comprehensive health care. I am glad to work in a bipartisan manner to establish a fund dedicated to improving the health and well-being of rural New Mexicans.”
“Now is the time to invest in the rural health care infrastructure in our state. This fund will help rural hospitals identify services their communities need, such as behavioral health, and reduce the high start-up costs for special programs so patients can get care closer to home,” said Troy Clark, President and CEO of the New Mexico Hospital Association.
“New Mexico, although sparsely populated, is a very large state geographically, and it’s not unusual for some of our citizens to have to travel over one hour to the nearest hospital. In fact, currently 7 of our 33 counties have no hospital or emergency department, and it’s no coincidence that these are all rural counties,” said Christina Campos, Guadalupe County Hospital administrator. “These funds will support rural start-up hospitals while they get their finances in order, and will help other existing rural hospitals expand essential services for their communities. All New Mexicans deserve access to quality hospital and emergency services regardless of where we choose to live, urban or rural communities. This is one important step toward achieving that goal.”