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Weinberg Statement On Governor’s Veto Of For-Profit Hospital Transparency Bill

Says a 6-Month Study Period is Needlessly Stalling Necessary Transparency for Hospitals that Receive Public Funds

TRENTON – Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, issued the following statement after the Governor conditionally vetoed her legislation which would require for-profit hospitals which receive State funds through the Charity Care and Medicaid programs to disclose financial information similar to what they provide to the Internal Revenue Service. The bill would have brought for-profit hospitals in line with the same disclosures already required of non-profit hospitals:

“Time and time again, we’ve heard the mantra from this Administration, that it is committed to greater government transparency. And time and time again, their actions have failed to live up to the rhetoric.

“S-782 would have put all hospitals on an even playing field when it came to financial disclosure. The intent is to ensure that the public is able to find out for themselves where public health dollars are going, and how those dollars are being spent. We know that just because a hospital is privately-owned and run for profit, that doesn’t mean that they don’t accept State health resources. When those resources are granted to for-profit facilities, New Jersey taxpayers deserve to know that they are being used appropriately.

“Governor Christie, in his veto message, seems to think that there’s potential for government overreaching when the public has a legitimate interest in how for-profit hospitals spend public money. He believes businesses shouldn’t have to answer to the public, even though a significant revenue source for that business is public money. I believe otherwise.

“I believe that if a hospital is going to apply for millions of dollars in charity care payments, then the public deserves to know that the money being spent is going into the operating room, and not the board room. We should not be using public dollars to subsidize private hospitals’ profit margins.

“Yesterday, the New York Times and other news organizations reported how some for-profit hospitals nationwide were directing patients into medical procedures they did not need – some that carried significant risk. Perhaps the Governor considers such instances examples of shrewd business maneuvers, not to be regulated by overreaching government. I, and many others, would disagree.

“The profitability of hospitals is not harmed by allowing the sun to shine in on their books, particularly when they derive a significant portion of their revenues from public sources. This misguided conditional veto is steeped more in the interests of business in New Jersey than it is in the interest of transparency and the greater public good.”

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