BAYONNE, NJ – A three-bill package aimed at increasing hospitals’ transparency to help prevent the abrupt loss of important healthcare services in local communities introduced last month by Bayonne's representatives to the New Jersey General Assembly passed through the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee Thursday.
“Accessible healthcare is a human right. For a district as densely populated as the 31st, the closure of a medical center could be the difference between life and death for our residents,” Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson). “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 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.
“This legislation will ensure that a hospital’s business practices are above-board and communities are never at risk of losing important services,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “With better oversight, we can make sure that what might happen to Bayonne Medical Center cannot – and will not – happen to any other hospitals and their communities going forward,” she added.
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