New Jersey hospitals must cap prices for low- and middle-income uninsured people under one of four healthcare bills signed by New Jerseys governor. Other enacted bills expand the states oversight of troubled hospitals; require hospitals to hold yearly public meetings; and make retroactive 2007 legislation that mandates governance education for hospital directors and trustees.
Under the new pricing law, hospitals may not charge more than 15% above Medicares rate for services to uninsured patients with incomes below 500% of the federal poverty level, which is $21,200 for a family of four. A second bill gives New Jerseys health commissioner power to appoint a monitor for hospitals at risk for or in financial distress. The legislation requires the state to adopt guidelines for intervention set out by the New Jersey Commission on Rationalizing Health Care Resources in January.
Of the final two pieces of legislation signed by Gov. Jon Corzine, one requires a yearly public meeting by the hospital for community members. Under the other, a law passed last year that mandates governance education for hospital boards now applies to directors and trustees appointed prior to its 2007 passage.
The New Jersey Hospital Association did not oppose the bills, said spokeswoman Kerry McKean Kelly. However, the laws dont fully address problems outlined by the commission, Betsy Ryan, the associations president and chief executive officer, said in a news release. Clearly we cannot rest on the package of bills signed into law today, she said. -- by Melanie Evans