Some 20 New Jersey hospitals will share nearly $33 million in additional funding to help cover the full cost of treating elderly patients, thanks to federal lawmakers who convinced Medicare officials to extend a decade-old policy that let state facilities receive a share of the federal funds.
In 2005 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services established a fund to help rural hospitals cover wages and other costs associated with treating elderly patients. The money was to help hospitals that had developed budget gaps as they began to transition from a system that reimbursed for dependent treatments to one that seeks to pay doctors to coordinate care and help keep patients healthy.
While New Jersey is one of three states — along with Delaware and Rhode Island — without any federally designated rural areas, Medicare officials have traditionally included some Garden State hospitals in the awards because of the high cost of providing care in this state, lawmakers said. But the Garden State’s involvement was set to lapse this September, as CMS is in the process of revising its regulations.
Led by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), in March the state’s 14-member federal delegation sent a letter to CMS urging officials to extend the policy and again include New Jersey. The lawmakers praised the agency for in the past having “recognized the unique situation facing our state’s hospitals: that they neighbor two of the most competitive labor markets in the country, with Philadelphia to the south and New York City to the north; that New Jersey has the highest density in the nation, further adding to the competitive nature of the labor market and straining the health care system to ensure access; and the need to provide equity in reimbursements to hospitals in all-urban states.”
Their outreach appeared to do the trick. In late April, Menendez announced that CMS had extended New Jersey’s inclusion for another year as it crafts new regulations to guide how hospitals are paid for Medicare patients that are admitted.
Betsy Ryan, CEO of New Jersey’s Hospital Association, praised the delegation’s work: “This policy has been in place for many years, and its renewal provides assurance that New Jersey hospitals and their patients receive the Garden State’s fair share of these important healthcare dollars,” she said.
A dozen of the 20 hospitals will collect more than $1 million each, based on their Medicare costs. These include:
R.W.J. University Hospital – Hamilton
Capital Health Medical Center – Hopewell (Pennington)
St. Luke’s Warren Hospital (Phillipsburg)
Hackettstown Regional Medical Center
Cooper University Hospital
Kennedy University Hospital (Cherry Hill)
Virtua Hospital (Voorhees)
Inspira Medical Center – Vineland
St. Francis Medical Center (Trenton)
Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center (Camden)
Virtua Memorial Hospital (Mt. Holly)
12. 12. $1,005,177
Cape Regional Medical Center (Cape May Court House)