NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – With just a week left in the legislative session, New Mexico doctors are making their voices heard. Dozens showed up at the Roundhouse, calling on lawmakers to pass a bill they say would save their practices after that bill got stalled in committee.

On Saturday, nearly 75 doctors showed up to support a bill they said would keep doctors in the state.        

A law taking effect January 1, 2024, puts some independently owned outpatient facilities into the same category as big hospitals.

Physicians of the independent facilities said it will make it nearly impossible for them to get medical malpractice insurance, leaving them underinsured and at risk of costly lawsuits. Ultimately, they said if they’re forced to close, high-risk and low-income patients suffer the consequences.

“Citizens in our state have trouble making appointments and getting the kinds of treatments they need, and unfortunately, many of the wealthier members of our community take a decision to go out of state, but many people who live here don’t have that option,” said Howard Gogel, a gastroenterologist in Albuquerque.

Senate Bill 296 would fix the misclassification, separating independently owned facilities from big hospitals.

With the bill getting stalled in committee and just one week left in this legislative session, medical professionals are worried the bill won’t be passed in time.

Doctors sounded the alarm today at the roundhouse, calling on lawmakers to pass the bill.

“This is critical, and it’s obviously crunch time the last week of the legislature, and we need them to know that we need to resurrect Senate Bill 296. That one is an absolute must to keep medicine on its feet,” said Nathaniel Roybal, retinal surgeon and physician in Albuquerque

The bill would also cap medical malpractice payouts for independent facilities to $750,000 versus the nearly $5 million they could pay if still categorized as a big hospital based on malpractice suits filed in 2022 and 2023.

Doctors warned if SB 296 is not passed, those who can’t get insurance will be forced to close or leave the state, leaving New Mexicans with less access to health care. 

“We deserve doctors. My family deserves doctors and that’s what we really are trying to bring to New Mexico is get our doctors here and keep them in New Mexico,” Roybal said.