Emergency Health Care Volunteers Protecting Bill Passes House Committee
A bill that would protect health care professionals responding to emergencies passed the House Labor and Human Resources Committee and is headed to the Health House and Government Affairs Committee.
Volunteer health professionals who respond to a public health emergency would be covered with worker's compensation benefits under House Bill 605, sponsored by Rep. John Heaton. The act would cover medical practitioners deployed by the Department of Health both in New Mexico and outside the state.
"To ensure access to emergency health care and public health services during health emergencies, the Department of Health and its health system partners must rely on the willingness of unpaid health professionals," said Health Secretary Michelle Lujan Grisham. "These deployed unpaid health professionals make a heroic commitment to provide health services under severe and sometimes dangerous conditions, risking their lives and health to serve in a time of need."
New Mexico law does not currently provide an effective mechanism for making sure injury and death benefits would be available to unpaid deployed health professionals, leaving those who volunteer potentially unprotected for injuries they may suffer while deployed.
To assist communities in New Mexico and around the nation respond to health emergencies, the Department of Health has created a health professional registry called New Mexico Serves to identify health professionals including physicians, nurses, emergency medical technicians, emergency department technicians, and other allied professionals who are willing to be deployed as needed to health emergencies.