ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — New Mexico has a major doctor shortage. A 2022 study shows New Mexico has lost around 30% of its primary care providers in the last four years. Legislators are trying to fix this.

Senate Bill 231 looks to appropriate $7.5 million to the Higher Education Department to address the physician shortage problem.

“Strike up a conversation with virtually anyone in your community, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t had to wait six months or more for an appointment, sometimes with horrific consequences. Addressing our state’s healthcare needs requires an all-of-the-above approach,” explained Sara Fitzgerald with the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce.

The study also shows unusually large numbers of doctors in New Mexico are nearing or above retirement age. Advocates for this bill talked about how dire the physician shortage has gotten in New Mexico, saying we need to keep the doctors we have and recruit young people to the medical field in the state.

Senator Carrie Hamblen (D-Las Cruces) said her bill will help accomplish these goals and more.

“With Senate Bill 231, the governor has allocated 7.5 million dollars to the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine to build and enhance several initiatives that will be disbursed over three years. These funds will recruit students into the medical field, develop much-needed medical infrastructure, and address the need of more medical practitioners in the state,” Hamblen stated.

The bill did pass the Senate Education Committee unanimously, but not before Senators Neville and Kernan said other issues need to be addressed. Those include fixing medical malpractice laws and getting more options for residencies across the state.

From here, the bill heads to the Senate Finance Committee. The study showed we are also well below the national average for psychiatrists, OBGYNs, and general surgeons. Rural hospitals in New Mexico are hurting more than more populated areas.