Governor Christie’s proposed state budget includes a $10 million grant to help launch the new medical school planned by Hackensack University Health Network and Seton Hall University, and contains several other items that affect hospitals, including a major reduction in charity care funding.
The governor pointed with pride to the impact of his 2014 decision to expand Medicaid to include poor, childless adults, through funding from the federal government under the Affordable Care Act. “More of our poor [are] receiving good health care,” he said, “and charity care in our hospitals [is] dramatically reduced.”
The addition of 434,000 people to the Medicaid rolls over the last two years has meant fewer uninsured patients in the state’s hospitals. Calling this a “fundamental shift,” Christie proposed cutting the state’s allocation for charity care, which compensates hospitals for the treatment they provide the uninsured, by $75 million. When federal matching funds are included, that means hospitals will lose $150 million, a reduction of 30 percent from the current level of funding, to $352 million.