Hospital groups blast proposed Christie's charity-care cut

Source: NJ Biz.com
Five associations that represent New Jersey hospitals issued a joint statement opposing the $148 million cut in charity care proposed by Gov. Chris Christie in the 2016 budget…
In explaining the cut — which helps defray the costs incurred by hospitals to care for the indigent and uninsured — Christie pointed out that his expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act expanded membership in the state’s Medicaid program, NJFamilyCare, by 390,000, thus reducing the need for hospitals to provide uncompensated care to the poor.
In addition to the expansion of NJFamilyCare, which now covers about 1.67 million New Jerseyans, about 250,000 New Jerseyans have purchased health plans at HealthCare.gov under the ACA, more than 80 percent of them low- and moderate-income individuals and families that have gotten federal subsidies to buy health insurance.
After the $148 million cut, the Christie budget provides $502 million in hospital charity care in the proposed 2016 state budget that would begin July 1, 2015.
The joint statement by the five hospital groups said the state still has about 1 million uninsured residents and “The budget introduced this week doesn’t recognize the ongoing challenges hospitals face as they provide excellent care for all.”
The statement was issued by the Hospital Alliance of New Jersey, the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals, the New Jersey Hospital Association, the Catholic Health Care Partnership of New Jersey and the Fair Share Hospitals Collaborative. The statement said hospitals depend on charity care funding to support care for the 1 million New Jersey residents who remain uninsured, and to offset insufficient Medicaid payments.
The hospitals said that, in 2013, they spent more than $1 billion treating uninsured patients. And while many New Jerseyans have gotten covered via NJFamilyCare and HealthCare.gov, “Medicaid pays hospitals just 70 percent of the actual costs of patient care. Our hospitals struggle to fulfill their caring mission when they lose money each time they care for a Medicaid beneficiary.”

The hospitals also pointed out that, of the $148 million charity care cut proposed by Christie, half would come from the state while the other $74 million represents a loss of federal matching funds. “Unfortunately, cutting support to hospitals and leaving federal matching dollars on the table would be a great loss to hospitals and to New Jersey.”

The hospitals also said they are appreciative that Christie’s budget increased funding for graduate medical education, the residency programs in which the state’s teaching hospitals train doctors, which would increase from $100 million this year to $127.3 in fiscal 2016. “Health care redesign depends on an adequate supply of physicians — especially in primary care — and teaching hospitals are their training grounds. It’s an essential part of our industry’s ongoing work to care for the people of our state,” the statement said.
The hospitals called on the governor’s office “to join with us and the Legislature to restore these cuts and protect the health of each New Jersey resident.”

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