Public Health New Mexico
3:44 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Senate OKs Plan To Fund Rural Hospitals

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UPDATE Feb. 19, 2014, 10:35 a.m.: This measure is in the House Taxation and Revenue Committee.

The state Senate approved a bill last night that creates temporary funding for more than two dozen rural hospitals. 

Changes to state and federal law stopped the flow of money, and without a new plan from the Legislature, some hospitals might have had to decrease services to poor New Mexicans—or close.

County money, along with about $9 million from the state, will be leveraged for 3-to-1 federal matching funds. That should bring in more than $130 million when all is said and done, said Sen. Nancy Rodriguez (D-Santa Fe). 

Counties were going to be asked to chip in their entire indigent pot, she said, but her bill seeks a more balanced solution. "There is another way to get these funds," she said. "Let's not rush to drain all the county funds and give them all to the state. Let's work for some alternatives."

Counties will kick in half of their indigent fund to the pool. They also use that money for social programs, clinics, behavioral health and more. 

The stopgap funding plan would expire in three years, Rodriguez said.

The Human Services Department will continue working over the summer to find a permanent solution, she added, so the hospitals can count on stable funding once again.

The House still has to OK the measure before it heads to the governor's desk for signature.