Monday, April 21, 2008

State Report Details Health Care Issues

As city residents prepare for the May 6 hearing, it might be good to take a look at a new report on the state of health care and hospitals in New Jersey.

Click here to see the New Jersey Commission on Rationalizing Health Care Resources, Final Report 2008 broken down into chapters that are easier to read or download than the entire document all at once.

The May 6 hearing will be from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Plainfield High School auditorium. Each person will be allowed three minutes to speak. Comments may also be sent to the New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services Office of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, Market & Warren Streets, P.O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360.

An appendix to the report, "Issues to Address in Closing a Hospital" is very comprehensive and might suggest some very specific questions for Solaris CEO John McGee, who is scheduled to appear at tonight's City Council meeting. Click here for that part of the report. The council meeting is at 8 p.m. in Municipal Court, but attendees are encouraged to get there early.

One good point in the report is that the mish-mosh of charges for various procedures confounds the idea of the patient as consumer. It likens the hapless patient trying to make intelligent choices to a "blindfolded shopper" in a department store. There are lots of other thought-provoking findings about New Jersey's health care system.The relationships of doctors to hospitals and the practice of "hydraulic" cost-shifting are two factors worth exploring.

The report notes there are 96 community health centers statewide that were intended to provide the care that unfortunately many people seek in emergency rooms instead. But health centers may not be able to provide specialized care. And of course the problem of low Medicaid reimbursement remains to be resolved.

Some answers about the fate of Muhlenberg may emerge tonight, but the State Health Planning Board is only taking comments May 6, not questions.

The new proposal to buy the hospital may raise hope, but also raises some questions. Buying a hospital and running one in the current health care climate are two different things. Looking at the checklist for closing a hospital gives an idea of the many considerations in opening a new one.

As for rallies, my personal enthusiasm for them faded away several years ago after spending too many hours standing around Park-Madison waiting for Rev. Al to arrive in his purple jumpsuit. Thanks to all who have the energy to rally for the Muhlenberg cause.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Typical NJ. The Commission's report is meaningless. Obviously the criteria for saving an essential hospital has no value. If Solaris is in such financial difficulties it is Kennedy that should be closed.

1:48 PM  

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