March 11, 2023

Rural healthcare bill heads to House

A bill to establish a grant-making program to enable providers to set up new services in rural counties passed the House Health and Human Services Committee unanimously on Friday.

SB 7, sponsored by state Sen. Elizabeth “Liz” Stefanics, D-Los Cerrillos, is a bill supported by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office, Stefanics said. It would create a grant program within the New Mexico Health Department that would provide grants to provider groups, clinics and hospitals who are expanding care with new programs but operating at a loss.

The program would only be available in counties with less than 100,000 population. Urban providers who want to establish a mobile unit or telehealth options in rural communities may also apply, Stefanics said.

The bill requested $400 million for the program but Stefanics said that while the appropriation is still being worked out in the state budget, she said it will more likely amount to $80 million to $100 million.

The bill has received bipartisan support and is also sponsored by state Rep. Gail Armstrong, R-Magdelena.

The bill moves next to the House floor.