New Laws Foster Hospitals’ Increased Reporting and Transparency

While New Jersey has 72 acute care hospitals that are – in many cases – renowned as among some of the best in the United States, two legislative bills signed today by Governor Phil Murphy aim to expand hospitals’ reporting requirements and increase transparency.

“New Jersey is home to some of the nation’s leading hospitals, healthcare facilities and treatment centers,” Gov. Murphy said. “By requiring these institutions to disclose financial distress and expand their reporting obligations, we will enhance operational transparency and ensure that our communities have access to high-quality, affordable care.”

In brief, A5916 authorizes the New Jersey Department of Health to notify elected officials of the financial distress of certain hospitals, while the second bill – A5918 – expands hospital reporting requirements.

Several of the bills’ sponsors cited the potential closing of Bayonne Medical Center due to a merger/acquisition with another health system, as one of the reasons for the need for increased oversight.

In a statement, Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti, said, “Accessible healthcare is a human right. For a district as densely populated as the 31st, the closure of a medical center could be the difference between life and death for our residents. If we had known sooner about a planned merger that could leave residents without access to healthcare, we could have had conversations with CarePoint Health to try to determine a better approach. If unstable finances may lead to a shutdown, there must be prior warning to the community and any affected parties. These entities cannot be allowed to operate in the shadows with little oversight.”

Offering what she terms a “big-picture” view of healthcare transparency to New Jersey Business is the New Jersey Hospital Association’s Vice President of Communications and Member Services Kerry McKean Kelly. She says, “Healthcare financial transparency has been a longstanding focus in both state and federal requirements. State law, for example, already addresses requirements like hospitals publicly posting their financial statements and participation in insurance networks.

“The bills signed by Gov. Murphy build on those existing state laws with new requirements in areas like management structures and real estate transactions. We appreciated the chance to talk with lawmakers throughout the process to try making these bills more meaningful for patients and consumers. The bottom line is that transparency should be aimed at helping healthcare consumers better understand their care, their insurance coverage and the overall healthcare system. To that end, we would welcome a much more comprehensive policy conversation about transparency that includes additional stakeholders such as insurance companies.”

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