Sarlo: Charity Care Funding Is Still A Major Concern

TRENTON – Senator Paul A. Sarlo expressed concern over proposed cuts to Charity Care funding as the Department of Health and Senior Services testified before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today.

“Decent hospital care should be available for all regardless of their economic status or health care coverage,” said Senator Sarlo, D-Bergen, Passaic and Essex. “Charity Care funding permits hospitals to continue providing services to anyone who enters their facility without imposing cut backs.”

Senator Sarlo was the prime sponsor of the enacted bill, S-1214, which increased Charity Care assistance in the 2005 Fiscal year Budget to $200 million. Under the law, hospitals will receive reimbursement for the services they provide through a formula that determines the refund based on the amount of care the facilities provide.

Due to federal funding cuts, the department’s proposed FY 2006 Budget will limit any increases to Charity Care funding. Senator Sarlo appreciated the departments efforts to reduce the need for Charity Care by supporting Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC).

“FQHCs offer a great service to the medically under- served community,” said Senator Sarlo. “FQHCs ensure care by promoting preventative services which will help keep the number of uninsured patients who visit hospital emergency rooms down. By decreasing the number of people who go to the emergency room, we are reducing the amount hospitals need to be reimbursed through Charity Care funding, but we must make sure that hospitals are still adequately repaid.”

Senator Sarlo noted that, there is an estimated 1.4 million New Jersey residents who do not have any health care coverage and under both State and federal law can not be denied hospital care.

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