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Casualties: Public Health Bills That Didn’t Make It

Patrick Feller // Compfight cc

Among the governor’s goals in her 2014 State of the State Address: deal with the shortage of health care providers in New Mexico. Every county except one doesn’t have an adequate supply of physicians and dentists, according to the federal government. And about 170,000 more folks will be eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Though Gov. Susana Martinez has unrolled some plans to deal with the shortage, the Legislature wasn’t able to pass measures that would have boosted the state’s health care work force.

Here’s a look at those and other public health bills that didn’t survive the 2014 session.

Dental Therapist Hygienist Act—SB 76

• Sen. Benny Shendo’s bill, which would have created a new category of dental health care provider, died in the Senate Public Affairs Committee. Dental therapists would have been able to do basic care—teeth cleanings, fillings, extractions, denture repairs—with the goal of addressing the dearth of dental care in the state. The measure faced opposition from the New Mexico Dental Association.  It died in Senate Public Affairs Committee.

Health Care Liability Act—HB 151

• Rep. Terry McMillan’s bill would have capped the amount of damages someone could win in a lawsuit for pain and suffering at $300,000. It died in the House Judiciary Committee.

Nurse Educators Fund Expansion—HB 59

• Another piece of McMillan legislation would have tapped funding already in place for nurses to seek advanced degrees and become educators. As things stand, only nurses who work in public universities or colleges can access this money. The measure passed the House and was scheduled for a vote in the Senate, but the session ended before it took place.

Mental Health Nurse Program—SB 35

• Sen. Mary Kay Papen's bill would have added funding to the New Mexico State University mental health nurse practitioner program. The bill died in the Senate Finance Committee.

Expedited Nurse Licensure—HB 142

• Rep. Thomas Taylor’s legislation aimed to shorten to five days the amount of time it takes for an out-of-state nurse to be licensed in New Mexico. The measure passed the House and was scheduled for a vote in the Senate, but lawmakers ran out of time.

Original story: Lawmakers Try to Address Physician Shortage

No E-Cigs for Minors—HB 15

• Rep. Paul Bandy and Sen. Tim Keller’s measure to stop the sale of e-cigarettes to people under 18 passed the House and was scheduled for a Senate vote when the session ended.

Original Story: Lawmakers Advance Ban on E-Cigarette Sales to Minors

DD Waiver Five-Year Plan—SB 55

• Sen. William Soules’ measure demanding the state come up with a plan for its troubled Developmental Disabilities Waiver Program passed the Senate but got stuck in the House Health, Government and Indian Affairs Committee.

Original story: Disability Rights in the Roundhouse

Native American Youth Suicide Prevention—HB 61

• Rep. James Madalena’s legislation seeking funding to address the high suicide rate among New Mexico’s Native American youth got stuck in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.

Original story: Funding Would Boost Native Youth Suicide Prevention

Land Grant Fund and Education—SJR 12

• Sen. Michael Sanchez’ bill would have put one-and-a-half percent more of the land grant fund to early childhood education, but it never got past the Senate Finance Committee.

Original story: New Mexico in Last Place for Child Well-Being

NM Grown Produce for School Meals—HB 81

• Rep. Don Tripp and Sen. Tim Keller’s legislation would have allocated some funding for public schools to buy fruits and vegetables from local farmers. It died in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.

Original story: Bill Would Fund Farm-Fresh School Lunches

Clarify “Medicaid Fraud”—SB 33

• Sen. Papen and Madalena’s measure sought to define a “credible allegation of fraud” after 15 New Mexico behavioral health providers lost their longtime contracts with the state in 2013. It languished in the Senate Committees Committee.

Health Care Emergency Procurement and AuditsSB 50

• Sen. Keller and Rep. Eliseo Alcon also attempted to address the behavioral health controversy with legislation that would provided oversight and auditing of the procurement process. It died in the Senate Committees Committee.

Marijuana Possession, Use and Regulation—SJR 10

• Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino’s resolution would have put the issue of marijuana legalization before New Mexico voters. It died in the Senate Rules Committee.

Original story: Breakdown of 2014 Public Health Legislation

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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