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Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
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Following a year-long study, the Commission today released its 200-page report at a press conference at
The Commission also included experts in health care economics, nursing, medicine, hospital administration, public health and health policy.
“We have put forth a wide-ranging series of recommendations that we believe can enhance the proper functioning of
“This report gives us the tools we need to shape the future of our health care system, so we’re not just running from crisis to crisis,” Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard said in accepting the report for Governor Corzine.
“Fixing the state’s health care system is a shared responsibility,” she added. “By working together – the Department, the Legislature and the heath care community – we can make the changes we need to support essential hospitals and make sure the communities they serve will have access to quality health care for years to come,” she added. “The Governor and I are very grateful for the Commission members’ service and the excellent report they have produced.”
The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has already begun work on the recommendations. DHSS is talking to the New Jersey Health Care Facilities Financing Authority about an “early warning system,” increased oversight and expanded reporting standards. Also, Commissioner Howard has charged a DHSS senior staff team with developing an overall implementation strategy for the report.
One of the study’s key findings is that a large number of hospitals are in poor financial health at a time when hospitals nationally are doing well.
The report identified six major causes of the industry’s overall poor financial health:
The Commission proposed dozens of steps that should be taken to stabilize
Some key recommendations:
· Create an “early warning system” to closely monitor hospitals for early signs of distress, when a crisis might be averted. A range of fiscal indicators, such as profitability and available cash on hand, should be used as part of this warning system.
· When necessary, impose formal monitoring or intervention upon the hospital, based on the seriousness of the hospital’s problems.
· Require distressed hospitals receiving state support to meet efficiency standards to ensure appropriate use of public funds.
· Require hospitals to submit data regularly on efficiency and quality of care, and make that information public.
Hospital Board Governance and Transparency
· Require boards to meet best practices of non-profit governance, including limiting board size and limiting the number of consecutive terms a board member may serve.
· Require hospitals to charge uninsured
· Require hospitals to post important documents on their web sites. This would include charges for services, sliding-fee payment policy for the uninsured, and the three most recent
· Focus state effort and resources on distressed hospitals that are essential.
· Examine a series of measures, such as occupancy rate and number of Medicaid or uninsured patients, to determine whether a hospital is essential. Software was created to analyze up-to-the-minute data related to essential factors and a hospital’s financial viability.
· Create a Distressed Hospital Program to aid financially troubled essential hospitals.
· Consider increasing Medicaid payment rates for certain services at essential, distressed hospitals.
· Require licensing for all ambulatory surgery centers and surgical physician practices with one operating room to ensure quality and patient safety.
· Regularly review the certificate-of-need process to ensure it keeps pace with changes in the healthcare marketplace.
As part of its deliberations, the Commission sought input from the public and a wide range of stakeholders. The panel held three public hearings and considered testimony and position papers from hospital groups, payer groups, consumers and others. The Commission also created six subcommittees that examined such issues as regulatory and legal reform, information technology in health care delivery and access and equity for the medically underserved, among others.
The full report is available on the department’s web site at: ww.nj.gov/health/rhc/index.shtml.
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Department of Health
P. O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360