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Weinberg-Cunningham Bill To Increase Public Reporting For Hospitals Advances In Committee

Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) testifies on the Senate floor regarding S-1, legislation that would establish marriage equality in New Jersey. The bill is sponsored by the Senate Majority Leader  along with Senator Raymond J. Lesniak (D-Union) and Senate President Stephen P. Sweeney (D-Salem, Cumberland, Gloucester). The bill was approved by the full Senate with a vote of 24-16.

Measure Would Require All Hospitals – Non-Profits and For-Profits – to Follow Same Rules

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham which would ensure that all New Jersey hospitals follow the same rules in terms of disclosure and transparency of finances was approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today by a vote of 9-0, with one abstention.

“The intent of this bill is to make sure all hospitals are on the same page when it comes to disclosure and being transparent with their finances and compensation,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “The fact remains that New Jersey taxpayers invest a great deal of money – and rightly so – into for-profit and not-for-profit hospitals throughout the State to make sure that there’s a facility nearby to meet their healthcare needs. The taxpayers of the State of New Jersey deserve to know that public resources are being put to good use at our State’s hospitals.”

“This is a good government measure which will make sure that taxpayer funds aren’t going to waste at hospitals throughout the State,” said Senator Cunningham, D-Hudson. “It would be unconscionable for hospitals to accept massive charity care and Medicaid payments from the State on one hand, and then turn around and pay out six- and seven-figure salaries on the other hand. By requiring hospitals to disclose basic financial information to the Department of Health before they can be eligible for charity care funding, we can hopefully root out problematic financial practices.”

The bill, S-782, would require that, in order to be eligible for charity care reimbursement from the State, a general hospital licensed in New Jersey would be required to annually file certain information with the Department of Health and Senior Services. Under the bill, non-profit and for-profit hospitals alike would be required to disclose, among other information:

• the identity and reportable compensation of the hospital’s current officers, directors, trustees, key employees and the five current highest compensated employees other than officers, directors, trustees or key employees;

• whether an officer, director, trustee or key employee had a family or business relationship with any other officer, director, trustee or key employee;

• whether the hospital delegated control over day-to-day management duties to a management company or other person;

• whether the hospital had knowledge or became aware during the year of any significant diversion of the hospital’s assets;

• whether meetings held, or written actions undertaken were documented by the governing body or any committee authorized to act on behalf of the governing body;

• whether the hospital maintains, monitors and enforces compliance with written conflict of interest, whistleblower, and document retention and destruction policies;

• how compensation for top employees is determined, and whether that process for determining compensation was subject to independent approval and comparison to other similar facilities;

• the total revenue received by the hospital, including, but not limited to, investment income, rental income, gross amounts from sale of assets; and

• a balance sheet identifying all of the hospital’s assets and liabilities.

“Much of this information mirrors information that non-profit organizations are already required to file with the IRS,” said Senator Cunningham. “Whether a facility is for-profit or not-for-profit, many of these hospitals accept substantial taxpayer funds. This is about protecting our investment, and making sure it goes towards the provision of health care.”

“I have no doubt that a vast majority of hospitals throughout the State operate within the boundaries of the law and best fiscal practices,” said Senator Weinberg. “This bill is designed to remove any doubt as to how these health care facilities spend taxpayer money specifically intended for the cost of care for uninsured New Jerseyans. At the end of the day, by subjecting hospital finances to State scrutiny, we can be absolutely sure that taxpayer funds are being protected from fraud and abuse.”

The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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