State Aid Cuts Could Mean Epidemic Loss of Health Care to Inner Cities

According to analysis completed by the Star Ledger, urban hospitals are facing major reductions in charity aid. The analysis, linked here (PDF), reveals that Newark Beth Israel is the second biggest loser of aid, with the loss clocking in at $16 million, a loss of 37%. The only hospital to suffer more is Jersey City’s Liberty Health Witzig Hospital, which is set to lose over $41 million. Saint Michael’s is also slated to lose $3 million, a loss of 12%.

Hospitals in Jersey City, Newark, Morristown and Perth Amboy would be among the biggest losers under a proposed state funding formula that would slash nearly $142 million in charity care payments for treating the uninsured, according to an analysis obtained by The Star-Ledger.

A total of 22 hospitals, including Morristown Memorial Hospital and Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, would have their charity care aid wiped out entirely, the review by the New Jersey Hospital Association concludes. Its figures show 62 hospitals would lose aid, while only 18 would get a boost.

Newark has already seen the closure of two major hospitals, which has meant a substantial loss of quality health care to city residents: longer wait times; fewer supplies, staff and other resources; and more crowding. Faithful readers will recall my experience at the now nearly-defunct Saint James Hospital, more aptly described as Saint Michael’s satellite ER. Very satellite:

The staff was professional, courteous, and good at their jobs, but it was clear that the process of waiting for supplies and calling for advice from St. Michael’s has taken its toll on their ability to deliver quality care. It wouldn’t be difficult to overwhelm the skeleton crew left to run the emergency room. In the dead of night, the hospital felt like a remote outpost rather than a community service surrounded by thousands of residents.

When the hospital was sold, I thought the worst impact would be some slightly longer ambulance rides for a small group of cases. It’s clear now that what was lost was actually much more dear: that Ironbound residents no longer have a neighborhood hospital they can trust. If they walk in the door here, they’ll wonder whether they’ll be packed up in an ambulance and sent off to someplace else.

The care I received at St. James was sub-par at best, and now the NJ Governor’s office is looking to slash aid to inner-city hospitals across the state? Newark Beth Israel is renowned for its pediatrics unit, which means that inner-city kids are the ones who will suffer the most.

This is really scary. Newarkers, get on the phone to your local government, your state senators, and the governor’s office (contact info below). Email them and send them a link to my visit to Saint James: we can’t let this happen to the rest of our inner-city hospitals. This decision will impact the poor, displaced, and our children the most.

  • Office of the Governor: 609-292-6000, online
  • Senators
    • Lautenberg: (202) 224-3224, online
    • Menendez: (202) 224-4744, online
  • Representatives
    • Rice: (973) 371-5665, online
    • Ruiz: (973) 484-1000, online
    • Coutinho: (973) 589-0713, online
  • Newark City Hall:
    • Mayor’s Office: 973-733-6400
    • Community Health: 973-733-7600

Author: Ken Walker

Husband, Father, Newarker, PCA Elder, Business Analyst. In a glass case of emotion since 1978.

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