Bills Part of Rationalization in Health Care Resources Recommendations
TRENTON – A package of bills sponsored by members of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee which would address hospital governance in an attempt to keep hospitals competitive in New Jersey was unanimously approved by the Health Committee today.
“These bills are part of the recommendations set forth by the Reinhardt Commission to Rationalize Health Care Resources in New Jersey,” said Senate Health Committee Chair, Senator Joseph F. Vitale, D-Middlesex. “We spend billions every year to support health care around the State, and we must ensure that we’re spending our health care dollars wisely and efficiently. We need to make sure we’re getting the biggest bang for our buck, and I applaud my Committee members for stepping up to work to fix the problems many hospitals are facing around the Garden State.”
The first bill in the package, S-1794, would require each general hospital in New Jersey to annually conduct a public meeting for the community it serves. The meeting would focus on the delivery of care to the community, and give local residents a chance to form a dialogue with hospitals’ executives to discuss how better to serve the community.
“New Jersey’s hospitals play a vital role in the communities they serve,” said Senator Dana Redd, D-Camden and Gloucester, a sponsor of S-1794. “But for them to best meet the needs of our residents, there must be open lines of communication between the hospital administration and the public.”
The second bill in the package, S-1795, would require that all trustees in a general hospital receive ethics training in the delivery of health care services. Under current law, only trustees approved after April 30, 2007 were required to undergo such training. “Too often New Jersey residents are kept on the outside when it comes to their local hospitals,” said Senator Ronald L. Rice, D-Essex, a sponsor of S-1795. “Our hospitals serve New Jersey, not the other way around. These reforms will make our hospitals more accountable to local communities.”
“There shouldn’t be two sets of standards for those who run our hospitals.” said Senator Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic a sponsor of S-1795. “All hospital trustees should be required to meet the same training requirements no matter when they began their term.”
The final bill in the package, S-1796, would authorize the Department of Health and Senior Services to conduct enhanced monitoring of hospital financial performance, and intervene in the management of hospitals for facilities identified as being in fiscal distress. According to Senator Bob Gordon, the bill sponsor, the concept behind the bill is to allow the State to be more proactive in identifying hospitals at risk, and seeking to pull them out of the downward spiral into financial collapse.
“At a time when the State has faced the closing of several hospitals for financial reason, it has become clear that New Jersey needs to do more to prevent these closings,” said Senator Gordon, D-Bergen. “By giving DHSS the power to monitor hospital finances and intervene when necessary, we hope to prevent future closing.”
The bills now head to the full Senate for approval.