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Bill to Expand Access to Certain Cardiac Procedures Clears Committee

TRENTON – A bill that would expand the number of facilities in New Jersey that are authorized to perform certain cardiac interventions, including elective angioplasty, passed the Senate Health Committee today. The bill would allow certain facilities outside cardiac surgery centers to perform these procedures, in an effort to provide greater access to high quality cardiovascular care for patients throughout New Jersey.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Joseph Vitale, Senator Vin Gopal and Senator Paul Sarlo, is based on a recent history of cardiovascular care, and recent studies that have concluded that these procedures can safely and routinely be performed outside of licensed cardiac surgery centers, provided certain safeguards and protocols are in place. The measure aims to improve access for such procedures for individuals who may not live in close proximity to a traditional cardiac surgery center.
“Life-saving cardiac procedures have been modernized and made far safer over the last decade, so it is only fair and pragmatic for those seeking these critical surgeries to have every opportunity to access them with the greatest convenience possible,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex), Chair of the Senate Health Committee.
The bill comes in part as response to studies that have found that angioplasty, or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), a procedure used to widen clogged arteries, and help to improve blood flow, when performed at hospitals without on-site cardiac surgery was non-inferior to PCI performed at hospitals with on-site cardiac surgery.
“Right now there are only 29 hospitals in New Jersey licensed to provide elective angioplasty. That may sound like a lot, but the problem is that most of those hospitals are clustered in only 14 counties,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “This bill is a way to make sure all our residents have easy access to these services.”
“Eleven New Jersey hospitals without on-site cardiac surgery units are now authorized to provide elective angioplasty and continue to do so,” said Senator Sarlo (D-Bergen/Passaic). “It seems only fair, to patient and medical care facilities alike, to open the access to this procedure more widely, so that all those who seek to benefit from such surgeries are allowed to elect to have these procedures and not be hampered by logistical obstacles.”
The bill cleared committee, by a vote of 7-1.