New Jerseys Commission on Rationalizing Health Care Resources released an interim report outlining a process for determining which of the states hospitals are needed to maintain healthcare access in their communities.
Guided by the work of researchers at Dartmouth University to identify market areas based on patient use patterns, policymakers should consider hospitals within eight specified geographic areas, the commission said. To determine whether a hospital in an area is a candidate for state support, the commission proposed evaluating both the financial viability of a hospital and its importance for maintaining community access. Financial viability should be measured by looking at a hospitals profitability, capital structure and liquidity or cash on hand, the commission said.
Meanwhile, hospitals deemed essential should be determined by looking at occupancy rates, trauma services and other measures. Hospitals that are more essential but less financially viable could then be further examined for possible financial assistance and other support from the state, the commission said.
The commission will conduct three public hearings during the summer, while six commission subcommittees will also meet over the summer to examine issues such as information technology, regulatory and legal reform, and access and equity for the medically underserved.
The commissions final report is due by Dec. 1. In a teleconference today, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred Jacobs stressed that the commission is not a hospital closure commission but will simply attempt to identify hospitals worthy of state support if needed. Economist and Princeton University Professor Uwe Reinhardt heads the eight-voting member commission. -- by Cinda Becker