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New Mexico Lawmakers Reach Medical Malpractice Deal

Kevin Meerschaert
Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca discuss the deal for medical malpractice reform in New Mexico.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Senate Majority and Minority Leaders Democrat Peter Wirth and Republican Greg Baca have announced an agreement to address the problem of medical malpractice in New Mexico.

Senate Bill 523, introduced on Tuesday, amends the Medical Malpractice Act to cap claims for independent healthcare facilities, such as urgent care, ambulatory surgical centers, and free-standing emergency rooms that are not hospital controlled. Additionally, the damages recoverable from an injury or death to patient as a result of malpractice shall not exceed $1 million, except for punitive damages. Beginning in calendar year 2024, it adjusts annually by the prior three-year average consumer price index.  

      Medical malpractice reform has been a major issue in New Mexico for a couple of years. Many doctors have been warning they may have to close up shop and leave the state if things don’t change.

Wirth says it was the trial lawyers and the doctors working together with lawmakers that made the deal a reality.

“Trying to force a bill by either side we’ve seen what happens with this issue in this building when that’s the direction that it goes,” he said. “For them to reach the decision themselves in a way that both Sen. Baca and I and the Governor can certainly live with. I just think is a really positive thing.”            

A large group of doctors in their white coats were at Roundhouse on Monday in a move to urge lawmakers to rewrite the current medical malpractice laws that they say would make getting insurance in the future impossible.

The bill was given a unanimous Do Pass in the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee Tuesday night. It now heads to the Floor.

Kevin Meerschaert comes to Santa Fe from Jacksonville, Florida where he spent the past 20 years covering politics, government and pretty much everything else.