Talk of the Town: Medical malpractice insurance affects every city, village and rural area in the state - Albuquerque Journal

Talk of the Town: Medical malpractice insurance affects every city, village and rural area in the state

Give state time to fix malpractice law

I WAS a member of the Class of 1970 from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and served for eight years on the N.M. Board of Medicine, which licenses all doctors in New Mexico.

I am saddened by the current state of affairs where malpractice insurance companies are leaving the state as of Dec. 31. That will leave many private doctors unable to get insurance and will, sadly, force them also to leave the state. This will affect every city, village and rural area in the state. The current crisis involves clinics and outpatient operative practices, but it has a ripple effect for all private practices in the state. As the insurance companies leave due to the new law regarding those larger health care facilities, they will leave all the other small private practices unable to get insurance at any cost. Insurance for doctors will simply not be available at any price.

A substitute bill was introduced a week ago, but it failed. It would have delayed implementation of the current bill, which was passed two years ago, for two more years while a blue-ribbon committee would meet with local and national experts to completely rewrite the malpractice laws for New Mexico. Then, as a result, patients would be adequately covered, while doctors could stay. …

Please call your senator or representative and ask them to bring Senate Bill 296 off the table and pass it before the end of the week. Otherwise, a costly special session of the Legislature will need to be called by the governor as doctors make plans to move.

Dr. Steve Komadina, N.M. senator 2001-2008

Update TANF for NM’s families

I BECAME pregnant when I was 19. I grew up in the foster care system and didn’t have any family or anyone I could ask for help when I aged out of that system. A homeless shelter in Albuquerque helped me apply for TANF, which is a small amount of cash assistance for low-income families with children. I really needed the help and have applied more than once over the years, but there has always been some kind of barrier stopping me from actually getting it for more than a month or two. …

When I first applied for TANF, I had to go to the Income Support Division office in person. My son was only a couple of days old and had health issues, but they didn’t let me conduct the appointment over the phone. I had to borrow money for the bus and worried about sitting on the bus and in the waiting room with a tiny newborn. I waited there for about three hours, then staff canceled my appointment. I lost TANF benefits that time because I couldn’t provide a birth certificate in time. I didn’t have one because you don’t leave the hospital with that document. …

I applied again, but my case worker said I again failed to provide required paperwork. I tried to dispute it … but, when you call Human Services, you’re stuck on the phone for about two hours waiting to speak to somebody. … I was sanctioned and was off the program for a whole year right at a time when I really needed it.

I tried again when I had my second child. I was working 30 hours a week. They told me I didn’t qualify because, at $8.50 an hour, I was making too much money. They wanted me to cut my hours to 28 or 25. My boss said they could not cut my hours, so I had to quit.

Now with my third child, I still had trouble getting and keeping TANF because they insist I go after the father for child support. Bothering him could hurt my family and I won’t risk it. I wouldn’t get anything from him, anyway, because the state keeps most of your child support when you’re on TANF. I had to file an appeal because they sanctioned me for not pursuing child support against this father. It took five months for me to finally win my appeal and for the agency to believe me.

TANF is not a lot of money, but families like mine really need it. Senate Bill 267 would make important updates to the TANF program that would help families like mine. …

Micaela Baca, Albuquerque

Malpractice mess means no docs in NM

THE LEGISLATURE has (days) to amend hostile changes made in malpractice toward private physicians and their surgery centers. Every New Mexican is aware that access to health care is already extremely challenging. Try making an appointment today and, in most instances, it will be more than 6-8 weeks before you could be seen by your doctor.

The state government has turned against your medical providers and you by increasing malpractice costs astronomically. Recruitment of new physicians to New Mexico is on life support and the current malpractice act, if not changed, will essentially cause the death of our ability to recruit quality physicians. At Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, there are no full-time orthopedic surgeons. In Gallup, at two different medical centers, there is only one full-time orthopedic surgeon, who is leaving the state secondary to malpractice concerns. In Farmington, the four private orthopedic surgeons — who cover the entire northwest corner of the state and, with that, the overflow of the entire reservation population — have been attempting to recruit another surgeon since 2021 and have not had one interview since the Legislature discussed changes to malpractice rates.

… The Legislature needs to decide if it wants to support the people of the state and facilitate health care, or see lives lost due to government enforcement, as well as inaction to protect and help our doctors.

Dr. Jason Lucas, Farmington

Current tax bill a missed opportunity

The proposed House “omnibus tax bill” — House Bill 547 TRC Substitute — squanders a unique opportunity for meaningful Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) reform in favor of short-term tax giveaways that will not help grow our economy. The fiscal revenue surplus currently available can significantly address longstanding tax policy issues that make N.M.’s economy less competitive for investment and growth.

We support efforts to reduce child poverty; however, to lose an opportunity to reduce “structural” economic disadvantages borne predominately by local small businesses hurts all New Mexicans.

The pyramiding of GRT simply imposes multiple, compounding tax burdens on the final goods and services produced in the N.M. economy. … Taxing final outputs sold for consumption in the economy provides support for government’s management of commerce, but taxing intermediate goods/services simply compounds the tax burden, and raises the cost of goods and services produced by local small businesses. …

Opposition to GRT pyramiding reform has focused on short-term revenue impact on county/municipal governments. These short-term fiscal concerns are expressed at a time of unprecedented governmental revenues. It would seem some remedy could be crafted rather than wasting this unique opportunity for long-term tax reform.

Let’s work toward a fair and equitable taxation system that benefits everyone.

James P. O’Neill, Chair, N.M. Chamber of Commerce Tax Policy Committee and John C. Tysseling, Vice-Chair, N.M. Chamber of Commerce Tax Policy Committee

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