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Home » Uncategorized » Advocating for Public Health at 2021 NM Legislature

Advocating for Public Health at 2021 NM Legislature

New Mexico Round House

In preparation for the 2021 Legislative session, the Center for Health Innovation (CHI), New Mexico’s Public Health Institute, has joined forces with other statewide public health leaders to prioritize issues impacting the health and well-being of New Mexicans.  Our partners include the New Mexico Public Health Association (NMPHA), the New Mexico Alliance of Health Council, the New Mexico Primary Care Training Consortium, University of New Mexico School for Population Health and Office for Community Health and other leaders representing rural hospitals, primary care, county government and local health councils.  

The five public health policy priorities include (1) healthcare workforce development using a “grow your own” approach; (2) recognize and financially support the role of Health Councils as essential to NM’s public health system; (3) promote public access to accurate and timely neighborhood/ small area data for health planning; (4) support health care for all New Mexicans; and (5) address structural and social determinants of health, particularly the access to nutritious food, affordable housing and reducing evictions and access to broadband in underserved areas.

It was important to the group that principles of racial justice, health equity, community involvement, equity and being evidence-based or science driven be rooted in policy priorities.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made these issues even more important because if its negative impact on the health and livelihood of so many New Mexicans, with the hardest hit being people of color, low-income families and the elderly,” said Susan Wilger, CHI’s Executive Director.  “The Center for Health Innovation is grateful to work with leaders, communities and policy makers throughout the state who are working to improve our systems through policy”.

The group of public policy leaders met with the Chair of the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee in July 2020 to present their five policy priorities, which aligned closely with the priorities of the committee.  During the Fall, many of the public health leaders were invited to present and testify before interim committees on these topics. 

CHI will be leading advocacy efforts for continued development of our healthcare workforce and to promote public access to meaningful data for better community health planning and decision-making.

Currently, CHI receives state funding  through the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) to support Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) offices in Silver City, Las Cruces, Las Vegas and UNM in Albuquerque. NMDOH has requested funding its FY22 budget for continued support of health career activities. We request that legislators support the recurring funds plus an additional $100,000 to develop a new health career satellite office in Gallup. This additional office will help to develop a culturally appropriate and permanent healthcare workforce to serve the state’s northwest region, which was disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Additionally, communities need real-time data to make informed decisions and for effective community and health planning. Small area data brings to light communities’ unique health disparities, resource allocation, racial equity, and vulnerable populations. NMDOH included $150,000 in its FY22 budget request. We want to see this funding continue and to become a permanent item in NMDOH’s budget.

“As the 2021 New Mexico Legislative session begins, it is critical that community voices be heard. I hope community members view this virtual legislature as an opportunity to engage, rather than an obstacle” said Wilger.  “If anyone needs assistance understanding how to advocate or contact your legislators during this unusual time there are many advocacy groups willing to assist, such as CHI, the NMPHA, New Mexico First, SHARE NM and others”. 

For more information visit these websites: CHI,  NMPHA, and SHARE NM.