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NJHA: State Faces Access-to-Care Crisis
Date:2/26/2008

I can say that a $107 million cut to charity care will doom a number of those hospitals," said Ryan.

Each hospital that closes takes an average of 1,700 jobs along with it. And the impact is felt not only by charity care patients, but on all communities and all patients who count on hospitals for easily accessible healthcare.

New Jersey is one of just two states in the nation with a charity care system in which all hospitals are required to serve all patients, regardless of their ability to pay. (Most other states have designated "state hospitals," where uninsured patients are directed.) As part of New Jersey's mandate, the state is responsible for reimbursing hospitals for providing these charity care services. Year after year, however, that funding has fallen dramatically short of hospitals' costs. Hospitals' cumulative losses from charity care since the state adopted its deregulated reimbursement system in 1992 now reach more than $6 billion. That, along with poor reimbursement from other government programs including Medicaid, is the leading factor in the financial crisis facing New Jersey hospitals.

"This budget fundamentally ignores the serious problems confronting our state's healthcare system," said Carter. "Even the Governor's own commission cautioned that our state has systematically underfunded hospitals and that essential hospitals must be adequately supported to protect access to care. The Governor has balanced his plan on the backs of countless New Jersey communities and the poor and underserved who count on hospitals for their healthcare."

NJHA also noted that New Jersey loses out on federal matching funds when it cuts funding to hospitals. In a difficult budget year, the Governor's proposal effectively walks away from more than $50 million in federal dollars.

The budget impact also will be felt beyond hospitals. Nursing homes are slated for an anticipated cut of $50 million through the proposed eliminatio
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SOURCE New Jersey Hospital Association
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