Like many parts of the country, New Mexico faces a doctor shortage. Rural areas in the state are particularly struggling to attract healthcare providers.
Legislators are considering amending medical malpractice laws to attract more doctors to the state.
Various factors make the states surrounding New Mexico, such as Colorado, Texas and Arizona, more attractive to healthcare providers than New Mexico. The New Mexico legislature increased medical malpractice caps in 2021 resulting in higher costs for medical providers. Some people believe this has contributed to a shortage of medical providers in the state.
The proposed legislation will revise New Mexico’s medical malpractice law to cap claims for independent healthcare facilities. It would also limit the maximum recovery for malpractice claims to $1 million, except for punitive damages.
Proponents of the legislation say the change will make the state more friendly to healthcare providers and allow more independent providers to obtain malpractice insurance. They also say this will protect patients because it will ensure more medical providers have insurance coverage to compensate injured patients.
In addition to medical malpractice legislation, legislators are considering increasing reimbursement rates for Medicaid patients and providing additional funding for student-loan repayment to attract more healthcare providers to the rural areas of the state. Increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates could particularly help with care for infants and mothers since Medicaid covers 72% of the births in the state.
Patient advocates hope that legislators will focus on solutions that do not rely on limiting the ability of people injured by medical malpractice to recover.