Legislative Session Yields Healthcare Wins For New Mexicans

From Debt Protection to End-of-life Options, Legislators Pass Bills to Help Patients

Rep. Debbie Armstrong, chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, on Saturday called the 2021 legislative session a “win” for New Mexico patients and families.

“With bipartisan work and support, the Legislature came together this year to make healthcare more affordable, to ensure New Mexicans’ ability to make their own healthcare decisions and to continue to improve the delivery of services,” Armstrong said after the session ended at noon on Saturday. “These are big wins for New Mexico. In our state, we value community and taking care of one another. Expanding healthcare access reflects New Mexico values.”

Among the bills Armstrong cited were:

Healthcare Affordability:

  • SB 317, No Behavioral Health Cost Sharing (with amendments to create the Healthcare Affordability Fund): This groundbreaking bill increases access to critical behavioral health services by fully covering their costs for insured patients. The bill was also amended to include the creation of a Healthcare Affordability Fund, which will use revenue generated by a fee paid by health insurance providers to develop and implement programs to make all health insurance more affordable so that healthcare is more accessible.
  • SB 71, Patients’ Debt Protection Act: New Mexicans will no longer have to choose between their credit or the care they need. Under SB 71, providers must screen patients for coverage options to help them pay medical bills, and corporate hospitals can no longer send poor patients to collections or sue them for unpaid bills.
  • Health Security Act: A supplemental funding budget bill includes $575,000 for the state to plan and design an innovative program to provide healthcare coverage to all New Mexicans.

Healthcare Decision-making:

  • SB 10, Abortion Ban Repeal: The Legislature passed and the governor has already signed into law this bill to finally repeal an outdated 1969 abortion ban that would put doctors in jail for providing abortion care. In New Mexico, we trust women and pregnant people—not the government—to make the healthcare decisions that are right for them and their families.
  • HB 47, Elizabeth Whitefield End of Life Options Act: After years of hard work by tireless advocates, terminally ill but mentally competent New Mexicans will now have the option to choose medical aid-in-dying at the end of life. Patients deserve to hold their own beliefs on, and to make their own decisions about, death and dying.

Improving Care

  • HB 67, Primary Care Council: Under this legislation, the Human Services Department will work with stakeholders to re-vision and reform the way that primary care services are delivered around the state—from cities to rural communities.
  • HB 250, Long-term Care Dementia Training Requirements: By implementing training standards to help long-term care staff identify and address signs of dementia, providers will be better able to serve the seniors in their care.
  • HB 234, Strengthen Guardianship Provider Oversight: The strategic reforms to guardianship—including the consideration of options less restrictive than guardianship—will help protect some of our state’s most vulnerable citizens.

“While we have accomplished a lot this session, we still have a lot to do,” Armstrong said. “I look forward to working with the Interim Health & Human Services Committee to continue to develop innovative, forward-thinking policy proposals, including prescription drug reforms, that will move us even closer to our goal of ensuring that every New Mexican can get the care they need—and deserve.”

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published this page in Latest News 2021-03-20 11:13:24 -0600

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