Weinberg: Cuts To Health Care System Will Drive Up Costs

TRENTON – Senator Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, the Chairwoman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, issued the following statement regarding Governor Chris Christie’s executive order to implement more than $2 billion in mid-year budget solutions, including a $12.6 million reduction to NJ Charity Care:

“While I wholeheartedly support the Governor’s overall message of shrinking government and combating the ‘shadow government’ – the agencies and authorities which have spent to excess, wasted funds and defrauded the taxpaying public for far too long – I cannot in good conscience support such a drastic reduction for health care to the uninsured.

“It’s one thing to cut fraud and abuse within New Jersey government, and it’s something entirely different to slash charity care funds and shift the burden of responsibility onto the backs of the State’s already-struggling hospitals. Most of these hospitals are barely staying afloat financially. The results of such a large cut will be less services for the uninsured, more hospitals closing their doors, and an increase in cost on those New Jerseyans who do have health insurance and subsidize care for those who do not.

“What makes this cut even more egregious is the fact that charity care receives federal matching funds, making New Jersey eligible for a dollar-for-dollar match on our investment for the uninsured. What Governor Christie has touted as a 4.2 percent reduction in charity care spending will mean an 8.4 percent reduction in real dollars for the program.

“When it comes to charity care, it’s not about a program we want to be able to provide, but a program that we have an obligation to provide. Access to health care for the uninsured isn’t a frivolity of State government – particularly if you ask the folks who depend on that access. I urge Governor Christie to reverse his executive order cuts on charity care, and will pursue a legislative remedy if necessary to protect health care access for those New Jerseyans in greatest need.”