ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., March 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- New Mexico always has and probably always will depend on patients receiving care across state lines. This legislation is critical to serving the health care needs of those living in the frontier and rural areas of our state. House Bill 270 assures that New Mexicans will have greater access to safe, timely and affordable medical care.
HB-270 was sponsored by Representative Terry McMillan, MD (R-37) the only physician serving in the New Mexico Legislature. Senator Stuart Ingle (R-27) carried a similar bill in the Senate (SB-121). HB-270 was a compromise measure with which New Mexico Medical Society, New Mexico Hospital Association, Texas Medical Association, Texas Alliance for Patient Access and many other organizations agreed.
Lawmakers deemed the bill necessary to protect access to medical care for the residents of Eastern and Southern New Mexico. Thirty-two of New Mexico's counties are, entirely or in part, designated as health care provider shortage areas. The shortage is especially acute in 13 counties on or near the Texas border. Residents of these New Mexico border counties have long-relied on Texas doctors and hospitals for a full range of sophisticated medical care.
Texas doctors will continue to receive a full range of liability protections even when treating New Mexico patients. That issue was in doubt until the New Mexico Legislature took decisive action February 17. In recent months, Texas doctors and hospitals have expressed a reluctance to treat visiting New Mexico patients. That followed a New Mexico court ruling that questioned where and under whose state laws a suit can be filed if an alleged medical mishap occurs. That case, Montano v. Frezza, is pending before the New Mexico Supreme Court.
Clearly the New Mexico legislature recognized that access to health care is a public policy priority.
"This legislation makes clear that New Mexico public policy favors enforcing contractual agreements. It also recognizes the validity of Texas doctors and hospitals to enter into contractual agreements with their visiting patients from New Mexico," said Randy Marshall, Executive Director of the New Mexico Medical Society. "HB-270 addresses the coverage concerns of Texas physicians. Plus, it enables New Mexico patients to continue to receive specialized care that may be more accessible in a neighboring state," he said.
SOURCE New Mexico Medical Society