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Senate endorses revised medical malpractice bill

In this file photo, Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, appears on the Senate floor for the opening of the 2021 session. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

SANTA FE — A proposal to overhaul New Mexico’s medical malpractice law won Senate approval on a 36-5 vote late Thursday and now heads back to the House.

The legislation, House Bill 75, was substantially revised while in the Senate — a compromise negotiated by health care providers and lawyers representing patients harmed by medical malpractice.

“We can be proud of this — that these two warring factions have come together on this kind of compromise,” Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, said as she presented the bill Thursday.

The changes are intended to strengthen the finances of a patient compensation fund while also ensuring families harmed by medical malpractice can get justice in court.

Under the current system, there’s a $600,000 cap on nonmedical damages.

The proposed compromise would raise the damages cap for hospitals to $6 million, with the increase phased in through 2026. The cap for independent physicians and providers would climb to $750,000.

The proposal makes a host of other changes, too.

It will have to go back to the House for a vote on whether to accept the Senate changes.

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