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Karcher – ‘Hospital Bed Tax Won’t Cure New Jersey’s Budget Woes’

Senator Says Efforts to Combat ‘Bed Tax’ Have to be Stepped Up

TRENTON – Senator Ellen Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer, the Vice Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, issued the following statement today in support of Assemblyman Mike Panter’s calls to scrap a proposed hospital bed tax, which would disproportionately hurt suburban hospitals and cut aid to two-thirds of the State’s hospitals:

“I stand one hundred percent behind Assemblyman Panter and other legislators who are warning that a ‘bed tax’ is bad news for New Jersey’s hospitals. While New Jersey’s budgetary picture may be doom and gloom, cutting into our hospitals to try to cure our State’s ailing finances will only make matters worse.

“Statistics I’ve seen show that the plan to tax hospitals per bed to leverage federal money would result in a cut felt by two-thirds of the State’s hospitals, while one-third of the hospitals will show a gain. The Administration has touted this bed tax as a cost-neutral means of bringing in more federal aid, but tell that to the 49 hospitals which would have to pay out of pocket, some as much as $6 million for the next fiscal year.

“It is particularly important that we make noise about this now, because as we heard in yesterday’s Senate Budget Committee hearing, there is no plan B to avoid a bed tax. We cannot simply accept that line of reasoning as the bottom line, when hospital cuts have a real impact on health care in the Garden State.

“I will continue to work with my fellow legislators to identify alternatives to a bed tax that will help us avoid harming our State’s hospitals. In particular, a suggestion from Senator Bryant that we look into ensuring businesses are meeting their health care obligation to their employees merits some serious consideration.

“Our hospital safety net should be the last place we look to cut, because once you start putting holes in the safety net, the entire State is in danger of falling.”