Measure Would Ensure Greater Transparency for Privately-Owned Hospitals
TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee Chairwoman Loretta Weinberg which would require privately-owned hospitals to report more financial information to the public was approved by the Senate yesterday by a vote of 23-15.
“Even privately-funded hospitals may receive a substantial amount of taxpayer funds in the form of Medicaid reimbursements or charity care aid,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “In those cases, the taxpayers of New Jersey should have greater transparency to see how their funds are being spent. This bill is about allowing the public to scrutinize State health care spending, whether at publicly-funded hospitals or privately-funded hospitals which may be the recipient of State aid.”
The bill, S-1468, would require that for-profit hospitals be subject to increased reporting requirements through their filings with the State Department of Health and Senior Services and through their local health departments of each municipality in which the hospital operates a facility. The bill would also require hospitals to post certain financial information on their Web site, including: audited financial statements for the past three years; unaudited statements for the current year; a list of payments for goods or services, including leases and rentals; a list of all compensation, including salaries, benefits, bonuses and deferred compensation, paid to each board member and officer of the hospital; whether the owners of the hospital maintain a business entity outside the United States that does business with the hospital; a list of any properties for which the hospital has claimed a tax abatement; a description of major facility expansion projects at the hospital; and if the hospital had surplus revenues for the prior fiscal year, the total amount that would be used for debt retirement, facility expansion or a reserve for operating contingencies.
“Unfortunately, privately-funded health care facilities are not immune to fiscal malfeasance and outright funding fraud,” said Senator Weinberg. “When such potential for abuse touches on public dollars, the public has a right to scrutinize spending. This bill would empower taxpayer watchdogs and average citizens to root out waste, fraud and abuse of our State’s healthcare dollars, wherever and whenever that abuse takes place.”
The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration, before going to the Governor to be signed into law.