Bipartisan Legislation to Address Medical Malpractice Passes Senate
SANTA FE – Today, the New Mexico Senate passed Senate Bill 523, medical malpractice legislation to revise New Mexico’s medical malpractice law. The bill received broad bipartisan support, passing on a vote of 40-2.
Senate Bill 523 represents a hard-fought compromise to fix New Mexico's medical malpractice insurance problem, and is the culmination of weeks-long negotiations between key stakeholders, brokered by Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe), Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca (R-Belen), and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.
The measure amends the Medical Malpractice Act, capping 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 at an independent outpatient facility as a result of malpractice shall not exceed $1 million, except for punitive damages and future medical costs. Beginning in calendar year 2025, it adjusts annually by the prior three-year average consumer price index.
In addition, language has been added to the act to increase transparency in the patient compensation fund related to outpatient facilities requiring that there be an annual report related to claims filed, settlements and claims paid out of the fund.
“Problems get solved when parties involved come together, in this case our doctors and trial lawyers who agreed on a long-term solution that allows independent clinics to obtain malpractice insurance,” said Senator Wirth. “This compromise provides stability for current practices and more certainty for new outpatient facilities looking to open in New Mexico. And, patients who have been harmed are protected because outpatient clinics remain in the state’s patient compensation fund. I want to thank Senator Baca and the Governor for the work we did together to help the parties reach this compromise.”
“I am incredibly proud of the work of the Senate, and I want to thank Senator Wirth and Governor Lujan Grisham for working with me to get this done,” said Senator Baca. “This legislation will save lives and improve the well-being of our state by ensuring that New Mexicans have access to affordable, accessible healthcare. To our doctors and patients, thank you for speaking up and getting involved.”
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. House sponsors of the measure are Speaker Javier Martínez (D) and Minority Leader T. Ryan Lane (R).