Under new proposal, N.J. patients would be informed of in-state options before being transferred

New Jersey lawmakers may require its doctors to make sure patients know about in-state treatment options.

Cooper University Hospital in Camden

Cooper University Hospital in Camden, N.J. (Mel Evans/AP Photo)

A New Jersey bill aimed at helping patients is facing criticism from medical professionals who say it could cause delays in care.

The “Patient Protection Act” would place new requirements on New Jersey medical professionals who want to transfer their patients out of state for care.

Under the proposal, medical professionals would have to explain the rationale for transferring their patients, inform patients of other in-state options or certify that there are none, contact their insurance provider, and more.

“[The requirements] could feel disjointed and confusing to our patients, but more importantly add unnecessary delay and burden at a time when a patient feels vulnerable and anxious,” said Margaret Burke, a senior vice president at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

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Other out-of-state medical systems, such as the University of Pennsylvania, also opposed the measure, which they said would make it harder for patients to receive quality care from specialists outside New Jersey.

While several medical groups agreed that the new requirements could be burdensome or duplicative, some said at a hearing of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on Monday that they agreed with the intent of the bill.

“We think there’s excellent care right here in New Jersey and certainly great options here for cancer care, for trauma, for stroke, for cardiac cases as well,” said Larry Downs, CEO of the Medical Society of New Jersey.

The measure passed a Senate committee Monday and now heads to the full Senate for a vote. It has already been approved by the Assembly.

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