Lawmaker questions NJ reduction in charity care funds to hospitals

 (<a href=Photo via ShutterStock) " title="shutterstock_49869556" width="640" height="360"/>

(Photo via ShutterStock)

As New Jersey lawmakers continue hearings on Gov. Chris Christie’s budget plan, they’re raising concerns about a proposed 23 percent cut in state subsidies for charity care provided by hospitals.

 

Assemblyman John McKeon Wednesday questioned the wisdom of such reductions based on a projected drop in the number of uninsured patients due to Obamacare.

“All of our hospitals are in economic straits, and to cut on this basis, especially when half the money at least is from the federal government, I think is inappropriate,” said McKeon, D-Essex.

State Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd says the reduction in the charity care subsidy is far less than the 40 percent drop hospitals are reporting in services for that care.

“To actually not make a reduction in charity care this year would mean that we would be subsidizing hospitals more than they’re actually documenting in services provided,” she said.

Instead of providing more for charity care, O’Dowd said, money is being allocated for other health needs.

“We’ve increased funding to support the education of physicians in the state of New Jersey in order to meet the demands of the future,” she said. “We’ve increased funding to pay doctors for treating the Medicaid patients so that Medicaid patients have more access to services in the community and doctors’ offices.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.