BAYONNE, NJ – While Mayor Jimmy Davis has dominated the media reports in recent weeks for his efforts to ensure that local residents maintain access to critical healthcare services, Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti has also made his support for keeping Bayonne Medical Center open clear.
Davis has previously stated that any effort to close the facility would have to go through him, while earlier this week the Bayonne City Council began consideration of an ordinance that would establish of a Bayonne Hospital Authority.
Denying that the it would be shuttered, CarePoint Health officials have announced that they are seeking a “strategic partner” for the local hospital that has provided care to generations of local residents for over 100 years and that interest from “well known” health care entities has been strong.
On Thursday, Chiaravalloti used his clout in Trenton to introduce a three-bill package aimed at increasing hospitals’ transparency to help prevent the abrupt loss of important healthcare services in local communities.
“The Bayonne Medical Center is quite literally vital to the people of this city,” said Chiaravalloti said. “If we had known sooner about a planned merger that could leave residents without access to healthcare, we could’ve had conversations with CarePoint Health to try to determine a better approach. This is why better communication between hospitals and elected officials is so critical.”
The bill package, according to a statement, draws upon recommendations in the State Commission of Investigation (SCI) report regarding hospital-related oversight and accountability in New Jersey, after its investigation into CarePoint Health’s financial management.
Included in the proposed legislation is one bill that would give broader oversight capabilities to the Department of Health (DOH) to detect whether hospitals are nearing or already in financial distress, while also requiring the established system to monitor the quantity and suitability of any fees, allocations and payments made to third parties.
A companion bill would allow the Commissioner of Health to notify elected officials if certain hospitals are found to be in financial distress.
A third bill is aimed at increasing transparency by requiring non-profit hospitals to share IRS Form 990 and for-profit hospitals to submit equivalent information to the DOH in order to reveal aspects of their revenue and taxation. If enacted hospitals would also be required to submit information about ownership, leases, and rentals of offices and properties, as well as to identify investors, business partners, and other affiliates while sharing information about projects and ventures financially associated with the hospital.
“With more transparency and oversight, we can prevent hospitals from engaging in questionable business practices that could lead to over-priced medical bills for patients,” Chiaravalloti said. “We can also make sure that no hospital ever reaches a point where their previously undisclosed financial situation is so dire that they are forced to close the facility - leaving community members with a complete loss of access to care.”
The legislation is scheduled to be considered in the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee next week.
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