Vitale Applauds State Funding For Financially-Distressed Hospitals

Lawmaker Says Funding Will Go a Long Way to Ensure Access to Care During Difficult Economic Times

TRENTON – Senator Joseph F. Vitale, the Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, today applauded the State Department of Health and Senior Services for awarding $40 million in Health Care Stabilization Fund grants – including $1 million for Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy in his legislative district – to financially-distressed hospitals, in order to maintain access to health care.

“During one of the most difficult economic periods in our history, access to quality health care is essential for New Jerseyans in need,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “However, just as families are struggling to get by during the economic recession, hospitals throughout the State have been hit hard by a surge in uninsured and underinsured patients seeking care. Through the Health Care Stabilization Fund, New Jersey is doing its part to maintain access to care and support hospitals in keeping their doors open during a very difficult economy.”

Last week, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard announced that nine financially-distressed hospitals would share in $40 million in Health Care Stabilization fund grants to maintain access to care in communities in need. Applications for grant awards were evaluated by the Department of Health based on a set of criteria, including whether or not the hospital faced closure or a significant reduction in health care services without the stabilizing grants, extraordinary circumstances which threatened access to care for local residents, the number of uninsured, underinsured and Medicaid patients treated, and whether or not the hospital demonstrated efforts to become more efficient and improve facility management and governance. Hospitals participating in the grant program will be required to document progress on operational performance and quality control measures, enroll in the Universal Coverage for Infants pilot program, and include a State representative on the hospital board for the duration of the grant.

According to the Department of Health, grants were awarded to the following hospitals:

• St. Mary’s Hospital in Passaic received $9.5 million;

• Jersey City Medical Center, Christ Hospital in Jersey City and Hoboken University Medical Center each received $7 million;

• Newark Beth Israel Medical Center received $4 million;

• East Orange General Hospital received $2.5 million;

• and Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, Saint Clare’s Health System in Boonton and Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth each received $1 million.

“While I recognize that New Jersey faces a major budgetary shortfall next year, these funds represent a necessary investment in the State’s health care infrastructure,” said Senator Vitale. “Without these stabilizing grants, it’s highly likely that residents in the communities affected will be left without access to the most basic of health care services, creating a health care crisis for New Jerseyans in greatest need. I applaud the Department of Health for heading off this health care crisis and ensuring access to care is maintained at hospitals on the brink of financial collapse.”