By Margarita Mercure Hibbs

Living in rural regions supports a lifestyle that many families, small businesses and retirees appreciate. However, securing access to affordable, quality health care -- especially during a recession -- can be a challenge. With roughly one-third of its 2 million residents living in rural areas, New Mexico has an especially severe challenge.

According to studies by the Rural Health Research & Policy Center, the Flex Monitoring Team, and Kaiser, there are 42 hospitals in New Mexico, only 29 of which are located in rural areas, and six of which are critical access hospitals.

What does this mean for rural New Mexicans? These numbers show that although they occupy the largest geographical territory in the state, folks in rural New Mexico only get about half the medical resources. These statistics are devastating to our state and are completely unsustainable.

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