March 2, 2023

Grant funding for rural healthcare facilities to expand or create new services passes Senate

Laura Paskus

The state Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would, if enacted, make grants available to rural healthcare facilities to expand or create new services by a vote of 28-to-8.

SB 7, Rural Healthcare Delivery Fund, sponsored by state Sen. Liz Stefanics, D-Los Cerrillos, aims to establish a grant program for rural healthcare services, operated by the New Mexico Department of Human Services. Healthcare facilities in 28 of the state’s 33 counties would be eligible. The grants would be for one and no more than five years of operation. The grant money would cover operating losses and the grantee would be required to provide verifiable claims and cost data, Stefanics said.

State Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, said he would like to see rural communities that are located in counties with a population of more than 100,000 also be included. He cited Hatch as an example of a rural community that is in Doña Ana County that could benefit from the bill.  He also asked about School-Based Health Centers, if they could be included in this bill.

Stefanics said School-Based Health Centers already receive funding through the New Mexico Department of Health or they are partnered with other entities.

State Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, called the bill “one of the most important healthcare bills we’ll pass this session.”

State Sen. David Gallegos, D-Hobbs, asked if the grant program would cover abortion as an expansion of service or new service in a rural county.

Stefanics said the acting secretary of HSD has said publicly that abortion will not be considered for the grant.