NJ budget proposal maintains support to hospitals

March 2, 2013 10:31:17 AM PST
New Jersey hospitals would share $675 million in charity care funds under the state budget recently proposed by Gov. Chris Christie, roughly the same amount that was allocated during the current fiscal year.

The spending plan also includes a $10 million increase in funding for graduate medical education, bringing the total to $100 million.

State Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd outlined the specifics during a news conference on Friday. She noted that the hospital funding proposed for the coming fiscal year was not reduced despite a $32 million decrease in charity care expenses in 2011 - the year the department used to create its formula.

Charity care funds are used to offset the cost of treating the working poor and uninsured residents.

Betsy Ryan, president and chief executive officer of the New Jersey Hospital Association, said the group was "very grateful" that the same funding level was retained for charity care, but noted that it was less than the actual amount of care provided.

O'Dowd said the budget also includes another $167 million in an incentive program for hospitals that improve the quality of care they deliver in certain areas.

Hospitals will apply for the funding and will be required to show they've improved care in areas such as asthma or behavioral health, O'Dowd said. However, the criteria for the program has not yet been finalized.