Jersey Journal

New Jersey Hospital Association Opposes Bill That Would Force Non-Profit Hospitals To Reveal Finances

The Jersey Journal — Monday, March 14, 2011

By TERRENCE T. McDONALD
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

Bayonne Medical Center and Meadowlands Hospital in Secaucus are among the for-profit hospitals that would have to reveal financial information under proposed state legislation praised by labor leaders but opposed by a statewide hospital lobby.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Sandra B. Cunningham, who represents all of Bayonne and the southern part of Jersey City, was approved in January on mostly party lines in the state Senate. It would require the five for-profit hospitals in New Jersey to provide, among other items, their financial statements and lists of salaries and benefits of hospital board members and officers.

The information would have to be given to state and local health officials and posted on the hospitals' websites.

New Jersey Hospital Association, which represents 72 acute-care hospitals in the state, opposes the bill because it would dissuade entities from coming to the state to take over failing hospitals, according to NJHA Senior Vice President Randy Minniear.

Minniear, whose group represents for-profit and nonprofit hospitals, added that the bill, which he called "union-driven," would add "more red tape" and "onerous" regulations.

"A lot of the information that is being requested in the bill is already available via tax records and other forms submitted to the government," he said.

The legislation has the support of a labor union that represents 12,000 nurses and healthcare workers.

Jeannemarie Otersen, policy director for Health Professionals and Allied Employees, said the bill would increase transparency and allow for taxpayers to know how their money is being spent.

The state, which directs Medicaid dollars to for-profit and nonprofit hospitals, should know that the money is being spent on "somebody's care, not somebody's profit," Otersen said.

Jackie Cornell-Bechelli, policy and legislative director for watchdog New Jersey Citizen Action, agreed. Taxpayers have "no idea" what for-profit hospitals are spending their Medicaid dollars on, Cornell-Bechelli said.

"We have no idea what their executives are making," she said. "They're entitled to make a profit, but how much of a profit is enough?"

The bill has moved to the state Assembly for approval there.

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