Senator Vitale Statement On Budget Hearing On Dept. Of Health

TRENTON – Senator Joseph F. Vitale, D-Middlesex, a member of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and author of a health care reform plan to ensure affordable health care for all New Jersey residents, issued the following statement regarding today’s hearing on the FY 2009 Budget of the State Department of Health and Senior Services:

“Today’s hearing on the FY 2009 Department of Health budget was a chance to hear about just how dysfunctional our health care spending has become in the Garden State. While I don’t fault current Health Commissioner Heather Howard for the problems which have grown to epidemic proportions in our State’s hospital system and health care safety net, I believe we need to seek a better way.

“In particular, I believe that the massive funding shortfall we’re seeing this year in the charity care system of subsidizing hospitals for health care provided to the uninsured is a prime example of the inefficiency in our State’s health care investment. Charity care is a fiscal black hole, in which, without dramatic, transformational reform of the system, we will funnel hundreds of millions of dollars with diminishing results.

“The money we use to reimburse hospitals for care for the uninsured could be put to much better use ensuring our most vulnerable citizens have access to complete care, not just emergency care. By encouraging better health care practices and funding programs to make health care affordable for all, we can break the seemingly endless cycle of hospitals losing money on expensive care, and passing a portion of the costs onto the State.

“We must stop throwing money into the bottomless pit of charity care, and invest our State’s health care resources smarter. By switching to a less expensive, more efficient model of preventive care, we can make the most of New Jersey’s health care dollars and make a difference in the lives of families struggling to meet the high cost of health care in the Garden State.”