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Gov. seeks $10M more in aid for rural hospitals

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em011714bGov. Susana Martinez is looking for about $10 million to help shore up finances of 29 rural hospitals around the state.

In a message to the state Senate, Martinez said legislation that she signed Wednesday to help rural hospitals cover the cost of caring for the indigent and those who don’t pay their bills leaves “a $10 to $11 million funding gap. Ultimately, this may result in hospitals receiving lower payments than we believe to be necessary.”

The law requires most New Mexico counties to provide $24 million to a Safety Net Care Pool to support the hospitals, but the state had been counting on legislators to require a $36 million contribution.

Neither Bernalillo nor Sandoval counties are required to contribute to the pool.

The 29 hospitals to receive funds from the pool were formerly funded with supplemental Medicaid payments through the federal Sole Community Provider program. That program ended last year.

Since each dollar of state or local funding for the pool is matched by federal dollars, hospitals would likely lose more than $40 million, according to the New Mexico Hospital Association.

Martinez said she has instructed the Human Services Department “to closely examine its budget for (fiscal year 2015) to maximize the federal funding available under this program, given the shortfall from the counties, to increase payments to these hospitals.”

HSD is already budgeted to provide $9 million to the program.

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