Members Of State’s New Primary Care Council Announced


The New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) announces the 22 individuals who will serve on the Primary Care Council. As outlined in House Bill 67, the purpose of the council is to:

  • increase access to primary care, improve the quality of primary care services, lower the cost of primary care delivery, address the shortage of primary care providers and reduce overall health care costs statewide.

“Promoting increased access to primary care services and incentivizing primary care spending in health care has always been critically important to me,” said Representative Debbie Armstrong, House Bill 67 Sponsor. “Now that the Primary Care Council has come into fruition, we can begin to further population health through partnerships and action. Together with HSD, we are committed to doing this significant work.”

“It has never been more critical to have a statewide collection of primary care providers and professionals to serve, represent and voice the experiences and primary care needs of New Mexicans,” said Human Services Secretary David Scrase, M.D. “These individuals have the expertise and passion to foster accessible health care services within the context of family, community, and personal health needs, and we could not be more hopeful for the positive changes well underway.”

The nine council members are:

  1. Eileen Goode, RN: CEO, New Mexico Primary Care Association
  2. Jennifer K. Phillips, M.D.: Professor & Associate Chair, Family Medicine, University of New Mexico School of Medicine
  3. Kathy R. Fresquez-Chavez, NP: CEO, Bella Vida Health care
  4. Lori Zink, M.D.: Physician, BCA Pediatrics
  5. Matthew Probst, PA: Chief Quality Officer, El Centro Family Health
  6. Valory Wangler, M.D.: Family Medicine Program Director, Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services
  7. Sec. Tracie Collins, M.D.: New Mexico Department of Health
  8. Jeff Clark, M.D.: New Mexico Human Services Department
  9. Julie Weinberg: Director, Life and Health Division, New Mexico Office of Superintendent of Insurance

The 13 advisory members are:

  1. Alisha Parada, M.D.: Chief, Division of General Internal Medicine, Geriatrics and Integrative Medicine, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center
  2. Anjali Taneja, M.D.: Executive Director, Casa de Salud
  3. Cindy Browning: CEO, Cañoncito Band of Navajo Health Center
  4. Gretchen Ray, PharmD: Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice, University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy
  5. Jason Mitchell, M.D.: Senior Vice President, Chief Medical and Clinical Transformation Officer, Presbyterian Healthcare Services
  6. Jon Helm, RN: Nurse Flow Manager, First Choice Community Healthcare
  7. Maggie McCowen, LISW: Executive Director, New Mexico Behavioral Health Provider Association
  8. Rohini Mckee, M.D.: Chief Quality & Safety Officer, University of New Mexico Hospital
  9. Ruby Ann Esquibel: Health Policy Coordinator, New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee
  10. Scott Flury: Patient advocate, La Clinica del Pueblo de Rio Arriba
  11. Susan Wilson: Executive Director, New Mexico Coalition for Healthcare Value
  12. Troy Clark: Executive Director, New Mexico Hospital Association
  13. Wei-Ann Bay, M.D.: Chief Medical Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico

The Council members have backgrounds in clinical practice, health insurance, health care finance, public health, government, advocacy and more. The Council will analyze the primary care statewide budget, review the barriers in accessing primary care services, recommend policies, address primary care workforce shortages and develop a five-year strategic plan to increase access, improve quality, and lower costs for primary care throughout the state.

“High-quality primary care is the foundation of a high-functioning health care system,” said HSD Council Representative Dr. Jeff Clark. “I agree with the National Academics of Science, Engineering, and Medicine [1] that primary care provides continuous, person-centered, relationship-based care that considers the needs and preferences of individuals, families and communities.”

The figure below illustrates where funding, services and medical attention are currently spent in health care. In the United States, 5%-7% of its total health care is allocated toward primary care. Research suggests investing in primary care is linked with positive health outcomes, such as lower mortality rates, fewer heart disease deaths and greater self-rated health scores. [2] With the expected changes set forth to take place in the next five years related to primary care, HSD anticipates the state will also save nearly $11 million in General Fund expenditures as a result.

Source: Jabbarpour, M.D., Y., Greiner, MCP, A., Jetty, MPH, A., Coffman, MS, M., Jose, M.D., C., Petterson, PhD, S., Pivaral, K., Phillips, M.D., MSPH, R., Bazemore, M.D., MPH, A., & Neumann Kane, A. (2019). Investing in Primary Care A State-Level Analysis. Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative.

The Council is scheduled to hold its first meeting Summer 2021. Meetings of the Primary Care Council will be open to the public.

HSD serves 1,100,445 New Mexicans (~52% of the state’s population) through several programs, including the Medicaid program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Child Support Program, and many Behavioral Health Services.