Rep. Debbie Armstrong, Chair, Health & Human Services Committee, NM House of Representatives

Air Dates: February 13-15, 2021


SUNDAY, **Feb. 14** at 8:00 a.m. on Ch. 5.1 & 4:30 p.m. on Ch. 9.1


NM House of Representatives' Health and Human Services Committee

· Critical Health Care Issues – N.M. Legislature

· The Pandemic and New Mexico's Public Health Protocols

· The Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act

· Health Security Planning and Design Board

· Cannabis Issues

Feb. 11, 2021 – This week’s guest on REPORT FROM SANTA FE is Representative Debbie Armstrong (D-Bernalillo), Chair of the NM House of Representatives' Health and Human Services Committee. Armstrong discusses legislation in the New Mexico Legislature dealing with critical health issues such as NM's pandemic response and public health protocols, end-of-life options, health insurance, prescription drugs, and various cannabis bills.

This interview focuses on such legislation as:

Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act, HB 47 (sponsored by Rep Armstrong & Rep Hochman-Vigil, Sen. Stefanics, Sen., O'Neill) and SB 308 (sponsored by Sen. Stefanics, Sen. O'Neill, Sen Hambien, and Rep. Armstrong) This bill offers options of medical aid in dying for adult residents of New Mexico who are terminally ill and have less than six months to live, who are fully and mentally capable of making the decision, and who are able to self-administer the medication.

The Health Insurance Premium Surtax, HB 122 (sponsored by Reps. Armstrong and Javier Martinez) The revenue from this surtax will go to the Health Care Affordability Fund. It should generate about $110 to $125 million dollars a year for the fund that helps support people in the purchase of insurance and with their out of pocket expenses.

Cannabis issues – HB 12 Cannabis Regulation Act (Reps. Armstrong, Javier Martinez, Romero) creates a public health board to oversee the effects of implementing recreational cannabis. It has mandated education for schools and mandated training for producers and manufacturers. It controls the packaging and labeling so that it won’t be attractive to children and has appropriate warnings. It also will refund research so that we can start researching the use of cannabis so that NM is not just legalizing it for revenue but legalizing it carefully and thoughtfully with an eye to public health and social justice as we do it.

Health Security Planning and Design Board Act HB 203 (Reps. Armstrong and Lujan) establishes a complex planning and design board looking at transformational health reform to essentially have universal coverage in the state. Armstrong states that the long-term goal is to get everyone in New Mexico access to healthcare and that means access to payment for healthcare.

Representative Debbie Armstrong, D-District 17 (Bernalillo), has served in the NM House of Representatives since 2015 and Chairs the House Health and Human Services Committee. She is Vice-Chair of the Rules Committee and is a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Having started her career as a physical therapist, Armstrong has worked extensively as a health care administrator, working 10 years with Presbyterian Medical Services in Santa Fe. Prior to serving as Secretary of New Mexico’s Aging and Long-Terms Services Department, she oversaw the department’s Consumer and Elder Rights Division. Armstrong got a law degree from UNM where she was a professor of BioEthics; She was Cabinet Secretary for the NM Aging and Long Term Care Services Department, served as Executive Director of the NM High-Risk Insurance Pool, and as President of Delta Consulting Group.