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Public Health New Mexico

Survivors: Public Health Bills That Lived

Wikimedia Commons: Jacob Lofman, PIX Incorporated, NYC, photographer

A 30-day legislative session—like the one that ended yesterday at noon—is mostly about hammering out a state budget. But other priorities sneak in, too, and 2014 saw a lot of public health-related bills. Here’s a look at the new laws and programs that made it out of Santa Fe alive.

Newborn Heart Disease Testing—HB 9

• Adds a test for congenital heart disease to the list of evaluations a newborn undergoes before being discharged.

Sexual Abuse Detection Training—HB 92

• Requires licensed school employees to complete a training about how to detect abuse and assault during their first year of employment. Health classes, which are required from fourth to eighth grade and again in high school, will also incorporate sexual abuse awareness.

Adult Fall Risk Program—HB 99

• Creates a statewide program to help elderly adults find ways to improve balance and prevent falls.

Medical Practice Sunset Act—HB 152

• Repeals the sunset clause for the state’s medical board, so the board exists indefinitely. The New Mexico Medical Board oversees the competency of physicians and other health care practitioners to protect patients and the public from unsafe practices.

Human Trafficking Hotline—HB 181

• Requires certain employers to post signs with the national hotline number and The Life Link number in English, Spanish and any other language 10 percent of workers speak.

Breakfast After the BellHB 271

• Requires public schools to provide free breakfast if 85 percent of the student population qualifies for free or reduced-prices lunches.

Native Americans in Medicaid Managed Care—HB 337

• Indicates Native Americans don’t have to enroll in Medicaid managed care. Previously, enrollment was mandatory. Native Americans can choose to enroll or dis-enroll every six months.

Prohibit Texting While Driving—SB 19

• Outlaws the reading or writing of texts while driving, except to seek emergency aid.

Community Health Workers Act—SB 58

• Adopts rules for the education and training community health workers, who have long worked in rural New Mexico. From the Fiscal Impact Report’: “Nothing in the bill prevents the continued practices of the promotoras and community health representatives if they choose not to seek certification.”

African American Infant Mortality Program—SB 69

• Creates a one-year pilot program to study African American infant mortality in Bernalillo County.

Emergency Medical Service Provider Checks—SB 98

• Requires criminal history checks for emergency medical service workers, and allows the state to exchange fingerprint information with the FBI and other law enforcement.

Expedited Nurse Licensure—SB 119

• Decreases the wait time to five days for nurses from out of state to be licensed in the state of New Mexico.

P.E. Requirements—SB 122 and 307

• Allows school districts to substitute JROTC, cheerleading and other physical activity as P.E. credit.

Funding for Rural Hospitals—SB 268, 314 and 368

• Creates a stopgap funding plan for rural hospitals to provide services to low-income patients. Counties and the state will contribute funds to a pool so New Mexico can continue to pull in federal matching funds.

Medicaid Services Oversight—SJM 5

• Establishes a 13-member council permanently to oversee Medicaid services for people with disabilities.

Health Care Work Force Group—SJM 6

• Creates a group that meets for six months to expand the number of health care providers in New Mexico.

Anything not signed by March 12 will be pocket vetoed. Most measures will take effect on May 21. See the status of all 2014 measures on the Legislature’s website.

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