How Two Unrelated Hospital Measures Have Stalled in Trenton

Lawmakers in Trenton were scheduled to act on several hundred legislative items Thursday, but two controversial healthcare bills not on that agenda attracted outsized attention from hospital leaders and patient advocates.

The measures have no apparent policy basis in common: One seeks to expand elective angioplasty services, currently available at a limited number of facilities; the other aims to protect patients against costly and possibly unnecessary transfers to out-of-state hospitals.

As bipartisan support grew this spring for the angioplasty legislation, Sen. President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) sought to connect its passage to the patient-transfer bill, frustrating a number of those supporting the angioplasty expansion. That bill, the so-called Patient Protection Act — which builds on the law New Jersey adopted last year to reduce the impact of out-of-network, or surprise, medical expenses — is supported by a number of large hospital systems. In a recent editorial, the CEOs of the state’s three largest hospital systems said it would help patients to make more informed decisions and better enable them to take advantage of the high-quality care available in the Garden State.

“I don’t see it solving any problems but I could see it adding some,” said Rutgers professor Joel Cantor, director of the university’s Center for State Health Policy. “It smacks of protecting our hospitals from out-of-state competition.”

NJSpotlight.com, June 24, 2019