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Hospital acquisitions could require state approval in the future

The New Mexico State Capitol building
Alice Fordham
The New Mexico State Capitol building

A bill to give the state a say in hospital acquisitions passed the Senate on Friday afternoon. Proponents argue this will help keep rural hospitals in business.

The Health Care Consolidation Oversight Act would give the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance and the Health Care Authority Department a say in hospital acquisitions.

The parties involved would have to submit information about the acquisition to those departments, including a description of the people who would likely be affected by it.

The bill is sponsored by Senator Katy Duhigg (D-Albuquerque). Fellow Senator George Muñoz (D-Gallup) supported the bill, saying it would protect rural hospitals from predatory practices.

“These corporations move into New Mexico, they're not moving in to save rural hospitals. They're moving in to increase their profit margins,” he said. “Where is the easiest prey? And the most money I can make in the corporate world?”

Hospital acquisitions in recent years have often led to higher prices and made some hospitals more vulnerable to closing.

There have been almost 200 closures of rural hospitals in the last 20 years across the U.S.

New Mexico Hospital Association President Troy Clark told the Legislative Finance Committee at an interim hearing in September that over two thirds of the state’s hospitals saw expenses exceed revenues over the last year.

UPDATE: This bill passed in the House on Tuesday, February 13th in a 47-20 vote.

This coverage is made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners. 

Megan Myscofski is a reporter with KUNM's Poverty and Public Health Project.
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