Dems block attempt to hear bill fixing medical malpractice catastrophe

On Saturday, New Mexico state Rep. Bill Rehm (R-Bernalillo) made a motion on the House floor to remove H.B. 88, which has been languishing in the House Health and Human Services Committee and add it for consideration by the full House.

H.B. 88 amends the Medical Malpractice Act to replace the unreasonable $4 million claim cap with only a $750,000 cap to keep healthcare providers in the state. 

Dozens of physicians and other medical professionals were in the House gallery waiting for the Legislature to take action on the critical bill that would retain doctors in the state.

Democrats objected to Rep. Rehm’s motion, claiming “the motion is proper,” as Rep. Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe) stated, but it was not in congruence with the history of the chamber. 

Speaker Javier Martinez (D-Bernalillo) ruled that Rehm’s motion was out-of-order. The motion to uphold his order passed on a vote of 40-26. Another motion by Rep. Rehm to withdraw the bill from the Health and Human Services Committee to the House Judiciary Committee also failed, with a 39-27 vote.

“It is no secret that doctors are leaving our state, we are in crisis, and it is being ignored by Democrats,” said State Rep. Bill Rehm (R-Albuquerque). “So many New Mexicans will be disappointed to learn their healthcare has again been threatened in favor of a political agenda.” 

“If not now, then when? When will the Legislature take the time to properly address this doctor crisis?” said Ranking Republican on the House Health and Human Services Committee, Jenifer Jones (Deming). “Using the committee process as an excuse is just that, New Mexicans need healthcare and not excuses.”

“We have stood adamantly against the regressive medical malpractice changes that created this unnecessary crisis that is forcing New Mexicans to lose their doctors,” said State Rep. Jim Townsend (R-Artesia). “New Mexicans should not be forced to endure extended wait times or travel clear across the state or sometimes across state borders to get healthcare. This is a crisis, and it is disappointing that Democrats are refusing to right the wrong they created.”

The doctors walked out of the chamber after the move to take action on the important issue failed.


26 thoughts on “Dems block attempt to hear bill fixing medical malpractice catastrophe”

  1. We know too many doctors who’ve already left NM because they can “no longer work for free”. If the law is not changed to lower medical malpractice insurance costs, a large number of doctors will have no choice but to shut their clinics and relocate to another state. The democrat legislators are making a bad situation much worse by ignoring this dire situation. It is time for us to leave if we cannot get the medical care we need. Too bad.

  2. To many people on here are biased by or paid off by the medical profession. Ober 2 million people in the USA die from medical malpractice annually, and you want the inept to wLk away with a pat on the back. That offends me, and it should everyone else. This is one issue the legislature got right!

    1. Tom: What world are you living in? Just wait until YOU need medical care and you can’t find a health care professional !

      1. We’re already there. I moved back to Santa Fe after 23 years in LC. I’ve been trying to establish myself with new doctors. It takes 3 to 8 months as a new patient to get appointments! So sad. Who is benefiting from this is the question I’m asking?

    2. Tom I agree, the quality of doctors in NM is shockingly low. To many practices are filled with doctors who are way past retirement or retired and came back. Lowering malpractice caps will do nothing but promote a lack of real medical care for the citizens.

      1. They are not lowering from the norm of $750k doctors pay in private practice but are instead making them have the same coverage of hospitals which is $5 million. Not only can you not provide an insurance company in NM that will write that high of a policy but most private practices can’t afford to pay that much. Get prepared to wait a year or longer to see a physician & physician not taking anymore new patients. Democrats solely own this!

  3. Tom: What world are you living in? Just wait until YOU need medical care and you can’t find a health care professional !

  4. Too many lawyers in the legislature who will benefit by raising the amount of malpractice payment. Independent Doctors and small clinic cannot either obtain malpractice insurance or be able to afford it. Presently it takes 4 to 12 weeks to get a basic Doctor’s appointment in Albuquerque.. Many needed specialists are leaving. Time to do what is right for New Mexico, not for the Trial lawyers.

  5. As we age and are facing more medical problems, we now have to travel three hours each way to Lubbock, sometimes three and four times per month. Our circle of friends are all facing the same issue. We are told time and time again by our Lubbock doctors that 30-50% of the Lubbock doctor’s patients are from New Mexico because doctors simply cannot afford to practice in New Mexico. I, too, am weary of our legislators catering to those who make money from malpractice suits rather than the everyday person that either must travel for hours, or wait to the point their health is in danger for a doctor’s appointment in New Mexico. We, as voters, need to wake up and vote for legislators that are representing us instead of their political agenda!

    1. Jayann, I am guessing you live on the east side of the state since you mentioned people you know having to travel to Lubbock to see medical professionals. We have the same problem in southwest NM with residents driving to Tucson or Phoenix to get medical care. Our doctors are leaving, as well, because they simply can no longer afford to practice in NM. Shame on Democrat lawmakers for putting their political agenda ahead of real peoples’ medical needs!

  6. Karla Candelaria

    I cannot believe that our legislators care so little about healthcare in NM! Come on Dems…fix the exorbitantly high malpractice premiums before even more doctors leave our state!

  7. This is what happens when the legislators are trial lawyers. They make laws that benefit them at the average citizens expense.

    And, Tom pull your head out of the orifice it’s currently residing in!

  8. Frederick Armayor

    The trial lawyers have the NM Legislators by the $cojones. Who is it that benefits the most on $4 million medical malpractice suites even if there is no actual malpractice? Think about it. If and when there are lazy physicians making bad decision removing their license to practice in the state protects the residence of the state much more than a $4 million suite which the insurance company mostly pays and which the attorney will claim 33%-45%.

  9. The doctors are leaving because they see the hell NM is headed and they have the cash to leave the state. also, the covid bs is coming out and these doctors played a key role in peoples dire health effects from this so called healthy jab. Can’t find a doctor who leaves the state; no attorney will look for you either.

  10. So what’s new in the Banana Republic of NM?!! Better hope you don’t have a medical emergency!! Don’t vote for Democrats!!!!

  11. I spoke with a legislator in regard to this bill: answer was “So what there are too many old people polluting New Mexico. This will help by keeping the poor from medical care.” We are fulfilling our new state motto New Mexico Land of death.

  12. I predict that NM Doctors will also feel the pressure from their health group executives to comply with the new “gender affirming care” being mandated, as well as being required to facilitate later-term abortions. And there will be many more of them done in New Mexico, as women travel here for abortion “services” …

  13. Wait for the gender affirming care lawsuits when people who went through it get pissed off and blame the doctors.

    1. Arkansas just passed a law that allows anyone who received gender-affirming care as a minor to file a malpractice lawsuit against their doctor for up to 15 years after they turn 18…

  14. Coincidentally I had an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon today, he works with three others in their practice partnership. At the appointment desk they had copies of a newspaper article for patients to take and read, entitled “Law causing NM to lose doctors”, reprinted from The Las Cruces Bulletin, written by Richard Coltharp on 3/2/23. One quote:
    “In 2000, Las Cruces had about 22 pediatricians. Today, there are six.”

    This crisis is real. But it feels like Santa Fe is being run by oblivious, petulant schoolchildren with no foresight or honor.

    1. Another quote: “I recently learned of an El Paso doctor who had the opportunity to come to Las Cruces, just a couple of days a week, and increase his annual salary by about a million dolllars. He refused the offer, given the dangerous environment for a doctor practicing in New Mexico.”

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