The charity care funds that hospitals use to defray the cost of caring for indigent and uninsured patients are being reduced by $148 million, to $502 million, in Gov. Chris Christie’s fiscal 2016 budget. However, the administration said it expects New Jersey’s successful Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act to ease the demand for hospitals to provide uncompensated care.
In its budget statement, the Christie administration said 390,000 low-income New Jersey residents have enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program, known as NJ Family Care, since the ACA-funded nationwide Medicaid expansion began Jan. 1, 2014. According to state figures, there are now 1.67 million New Jerseyans enrolled in NJ FamilyCare, which is funded by both state and federal tax dollars.
The Christie Administration budget statement said: “As widely anticipated, Gov. Christie’s decision to expand NJ FamilyCare under the ACA has led to a dramatic increase in federally supported NJ FamilyCare enrollment, as well as a steep reduction in New Jersey hospitals’ documented claims for uncompensated care.”
Betsy Ryan, chief executive of the New Jersey Hospital Association, said the hospitals are now assessing the impact of the 22.8 percent charity care funding cut.
Ryan applauded Christie for increasing funds to the state’s teaching hospitals to train physician residents: Christie’s 2016 budget increases funding for graduate medical education from $100 million this year to $127.3 million in fiscal 2016, which begins July 1, 2015.
More details on the impact of the charity care cuts will be forthcoming once the state Department of Health announces how much charity care individual hospitals will receive in 2016.