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.