ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—Plans to expand the strained University of New Mexico Hospital have been delayed while hospital officials await federal approval of the state's Medicaid program.

The Albuquerque Journal reports ( http://bit.ly/11Zp2Pc) the long-planned $146 million hospital met with resistance from the New Mexico Board of Finance, which said more information was needed before it can move forward.

The hospital itself stalled the expansion to wait and see what happened with New Mexico's Medicaid plan, known as Centennial Care. State and federal officials were negotiating how much the state in supplemental payments will give to health care providers. The newspaper reports the state has already suspended payment of certain supplemental Medicaid payments to hospitals amid negotiations.

"We're just going to put this off for a little bit of time," hospital CEO Steve McKernan said Wednesday. He said officials were waiting to see what type of figures come out of the negotiations and said he expected the state to pay less than what it had in the past. The state is expected to get approval for Centennial Care this summer.

University of New Mexico says it has the money to back the project.

The hospital was also waiting to see how their new facility in Rio Rancho does after a couple of months with a low occupancy rate, according to president Bob Frank.


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Frank said the hospital is performing well now, but officials "want to make sure that we're really strong."

McKernan, however, said the Sandoval Regional Medical Center doesn't affect the need for more beds near UNMH.

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com