7 of New Mexico’s 33 counties, including Torrance County, have no local hospital or emergency department but that could change if Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s request for $200 million to the Rural Health Care Delivery Fund wins legislative support. The huge request is one of the largest individual line items in the governor’s $9.4 billion budget proposal and is similar to legislation sponsored by State Senator Liz Stefanics in last year’s legislative session.

 

Stefanics’ expansive rural district includes parts of 5 rural counties, including most of Torrance County. “This funding will provide support for our rural healthcare facilities across the state, giving them the ability to expand services like behavioral health, prenatal services, dialysis, rehab, and any number of other much-needed care offerings currently out of reach to too many New Mexicans,” Stefanics said about last year’s efforts. 

 

The appropriation is the “centerpiece” of her second term’s health policy programs Lujan Grisham said in a statement last week. The funds could be used to ease the start-up and operational burden for setting up new medical centers in rural communities like Torrance County where most residents must travel to Albuquerque, over an hour drive for some county residents, for emergency and routine care.