The Jewish Voice

NJ May Make it Harder For Patients To Transfer To Out-of-State Hospitals

The Jewish Voice — June 26, 2019

With a healthcare system of less renown than those in neighboring states, New Jersey is — what else — making it harder for residents to do what they're been doing: go elsewhere.

Faced with competition from more acclaimed medical institutions New York and Pennsylvania, politicians in the Democrat-controlled Garden State are seeking to limit locals' choices, even if it means they will receive what some see as a lower standard of care.

A proposed law would impose obstacles to patients being referred to hospitals outside of New Jersey.

Maura Collinsgru, health care program director for New Jersey Citizen Action, a consumer advocacy group, said of the so-called Patient Protection Act, "This seems to be a protectionist bill for hospitals in New Jersey, and we are actively working to stop this bill."

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, agreed, insisting she is "absolutely against it... The last thing patients need is more paperwork."

"Other consumer advocates and lawmakers who want to remain on the sidelines privately say they believe the bill was conceived, at least in part, for Cooper University Hospital in Camden, located in the competitive Philadelphia-south Jersey market," reported nj.com.

In an opinion piece published on the web site northjersey.com, Robert I. Field, JD, MPH, PhD is professor of law and public health at Drexel University, pointed out that the bill would "impose major new bureaucratic requirements on hospitals, physicians and other health care providers who transfer or refer patients for services outside the state. The result will be less access to top-notch care for New Jersey patients, including care at the world-renowned hospitals in New York and Philadelphia, even when it could be lifesaving."

The act also, according to Field, "imposes a labyrinth of new rules to discourage providers from sending patients across the Hudson or Delaware River. For example, they must inform patients of the availability of appropriate facilities in the state, even when they think an out-of-state provider would be better, notify the patient's insurance company of the pending transfer in a format that the state devises, and report the transfer or referral to the Department of Health."

Nor are those in other states, who stand to lose patients, taking things lying down. Ralph Muller, chief executive officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System, told phillyvoice.com that the proposed regulations are "an unnecessary burden that will force health care providers to waste precious time fulfilling arbitrary rules." He also called the legislation a "misguided public policy" that "reeks of protectionism" in an op-ed co-written with Shore Medical Center President Ron Johnson," the news site reported.

"When time is of the essence, patients should expect their care team to provide the best possible treatment while also ensuring the transfer goes smoothly," the op-ed continued. "This bill interferes with doctors' ability to do both, and ultimately, patients will be imperiled."

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