ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Community health advocates say the University of New Mexico Hospital has changed its policy and is requiring uninsured, low-income patients to pay 50 percent in advance for non-emergency surgery.

University of New Mexico Hospital officials contend no one is denied medically needed non-emergency surgery. The hospital defers the 50 percent down payment if doctors deem the surgery “medically urgent” under a policy that has remained unchanged for years.

The Albuquerque Journal (http://bit.ly/2fjG3W5 ) reported Saturday about 20 advocates in late June urge members of the hospital’s Board of Trustees to rescind what they described as an abrupt policy change and allow uninsured patients to obtain needed surgeries without delay.

Trustees responded by asking administrators to review the hospital’s billing process and report their recommendations at the board’s meeting later this month.