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Vitale, Ruiz Bill to Increase Medicaid Resources Becomes Law

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee Chair Joseph F. Vitale and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz that will increase resources provided through Medicaid by establishing a county option hospital fee pilot program was enacted into law today.

“While Medicaid is the safety net that prevents low-income New Jerseyans from falling through the cracks, hospitals need to be well-funded and supported to properly deliver expert care to the community they serve,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “This pilot program will expand the resources for Medicaid and funnel funds into those facilities that ensure the disadvantaged continue to receive the quality care they need.”

“This fee will allow us to explore the impacts of increased resources for hospitals serving low income individuals around the state,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “This will be an important benefit for the health of our disadvantaged communities and will help ensure that they have access to the resources and care they need.”

The law, S-2758, will establish a five-year County Option Hospital Fee Pilot Program in the Department of Human Services. The program will increase financial resources through the Medicaid program to support local hospitals and ensure that they continue to provide necessary services to low-income individuals. It would also provide participating counties with new fiscal resources.

The Commissioner of Human Services would authorize a maximum of seven counties to participate in the pilot program, and counties would have to meet certain qualifications to be considered eligible.

Counties interested would submit a report to the commissioner that would include the proposed fee and the expenditure plan. The commissioner would make the plan available to affected hospitals and they would have 21 days to comment on the plan.

A participating county could transfer funds collected to the commissioner, who would then use the funds, along with any other federal funds generated therefrom, to increase Medicaid payments to its hospitals. Hospitals subject to the fee would not be able to pass on the cost of the fee to any other party, or list it separately on any invoice or statement sent to any responsible party. No management care organization operating in the state would be authorized to retain any fund generated by the fee other than to offset increased administrative costs incurred as a result of the program.