WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded $2,982,779 to Taos Health Systems, Inc. in New Mexico as part of the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies (RMOMS) program. $9 million was awarded in total to address health disparities in rural communities by expanding patient access to care.
“This funding is critical for mothers and families in northern New Mexico,” Udall said. “Quality care during pregnancy plays a long-term role in determining the health of the mother and the child – unfortunately, some communities in northern New Mexico lack the resources and infrastructure that are needed to provide the care that every mother deserves. This grant, along with the House rural maternity bill introduced by Representatives Luján and Torres Small, are important steps in brining equitable and comprehensive health care to every community.”
“When I visit rural communities, I hear from families and mothers who tell me how access to health care at their local clinic or hospital has helped them, and in some cases even saved their lives. These rural health providers face unique challenges delivering care in remote areas with less resources. In many cases, challenges are exacerbated by the struggle to attract physicians and medical professionals in the first place. I will continue to support these awards and help ensure that families and mothers in New Mexico are provided care for the healthy start they need to grow and thrive,” said Heinrich.
“Too many mothers in rural New Mexico lack access to critical health services. I’m proud to have helped secure these funds to go toward bolstering health care for mothers throughout our communities. I will continue fighting for legislation that addresses these disparities and improves New Mexicans’ access to quality, affordable health care, ” said Luján.
“Mothers and babies deserve to thrive and be healthy whether they live in a city or one of the most remote places in New Mexico, but right now many families are forced to drive long distances to see their doctors,” said Haaland. “This funding will make sure moms and babies in rural areas have access to the health care services they need.”
“New and expecting mothers deserve the peace of mind knowing that the news of a pregnancy or the birth of a child will not translate to increased health risks. However, families living in rural areas are frequently face a lack of the appropriate healthcare providers in their own communities often leading to poor health outcomes. I was proud to introduce the Rural MOMS Act alongside Assistant Speaker Luján to expand birth and pregnancy-related services to rural communities. While I work for its passage to ensure maternal healthcare access touches our entire state, the latest source of funding will serve as crucial support for mothers in northern New Mexico to receive the care they need to start healthy families,” Torres Small said.
The RMOMS program, administered by HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) and Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), is a part of a suite of maternal health investments made by HRSA to support local and state level efforts to improve maternal health nationwide. The new program is unique because its network requirements detail the involvement of specific stakeholders, including rural hospitals, health centers, state Medicaid offices, and Healthy Start and home visiting programs, with the intention of developing sustainable strategies at a regional level.
Networks will develop strategies that focus on rural hospital obstetric service aggregation, developing a network approach to coordinating a continuum of care, leveraging telehealth and specialty care, and approaches to financial sustainability.
Recipients from three states, Missouri, New Mexico and Texas, will receive up to $600,000 in a planning year and up to $800,000 in three implementation years to pilot, test, and develop models that improve access to and continuity of maternal obstetrics care in rural communities. Taos Health Systems, Inc. is the New Mexico grantee.