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BREAKING: NM Board of Finance Postpones New UNM Hospital Approval

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Board of Finance voted to table the approval of UNM’s proposed new, $146 million hospital after several hours of deliberation at the Roundhouse on Tuesday.
A majority of members said they felt they still did not have enough information to make a decision. What’s more, they said potential approval should be delayed until after the Nov. 6 presidential election. Members are essentially concerned that the need for new beds could change if the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, is repealed, which Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has vowed to do if he wins.
UNM Health Sciences Center Chancellor Paul Roth said the need for those extra beds will not change regardless of whether or not the ACA stands.
Roth said he was disappointed in the decision to postpone approval but that he was glad to provide more information for the board.
UNM has garnered support from numerous community members, including Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, Bernalillo County commissioner Art De La Cruz and several Native American groups, many of whom spoke in support the of the new hospital at the meeting Tuesday.
The new hospital would be an extension of UNMH, the state’s only level 1 trauma center. At 96 beds, it would alleviate overcrowding at UNMH’s emergency department, UNM says. Wait times at UNMH can reach 36 hours, and the hospital is consistently above 90 percent occupancy. The national standard is 75 percent.
UNM has already received approval from the Health Sciences board of directors, from university regents and from the state Higher Education Department. The Board of Finance is the last hurdle before UNM gets final approval from regents and can move forward with the project.
UNM officials had planned on beginning construction this month, but the board of finance meeting will not be until November.