Friday, May 9, 2008

Save Muhlenberg Hospital

Here are my comments, made before the NJ Health Planning Commission last Tuesday evening at Plainfield High School:

"I am a health care professional who has lived and worked in the Plainfield community for 30 years. I am also a Plainfield City Councilman. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to officials of the state Planning Commission.

We would be more prepared to solve the current problem if we were joined by state economic development officials and Congressional staff working on immigration reform.

When Muhlenberg Hospital was founded 131 years ago, it served a small number of patients and the cost could be covered by a few wealthy families.

In modern times, the number of beds rose to 400 and the cost of medical care increased significantly. Health insurance became necessary to spread the hospitals costs over a large population. But Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements never kept up with the true cost of care and the insurance system never provided coverage for all that needed it. Hence Charity Care.

Charity Care was never intended to solve the problems that plague New Jersey hospitals. Looking back, it is clear that we skipped the most important step in assuring that people have good health care: fixing the health insurance problem.

Charity Care is only a stop gap measure for Muhlenberg. The permanent solution requires the following acts on the part of our governments, local state and national:

1. pass State Senator Vitale's Universal Health Care bill (S 1557)- that would bring more revenues to our urban hospitals from uninsured and under insured Americans.

2. urge New Jersey's Congressional delegation and our Presidential candidates to fight for sensible immigration reform - helping illegal immigrants who are already here to become citizens means more people and employers paying taxes and insurance premiums.

These recommendation may sound relatively disconnected from the crisis we face tonight in Plainfield but without solutions on these fronts, we will be left with mostly suburban hospitals in New Jerseys.

3. Plainfield will need to seriously consider creating a medical enterprise zone. But we do need help from the state. How can New Jersey urge us to do Smart Growth, transit oriented development and at the same time close down the biggest economic engine in Plainfield.

4. The big solutions will take time. We need two years of Charity Care support from New Jersey for Muhlenberg. The state Commission on Rationalizing Health Care is on the right track. Some hospitals do need to close. But not essential ones. When will the state take responsibility by releasing the list of essential hospitals. Muhlenberg would surely be on that list.

I received a written statement from the Dept of Health saying there is not enough money to save Muhlenberg Hospital. But a truer statement is that there are other priorities. We need leadership from state government to create some winning options for local health care. You can see the local community is deeply committed to working with you {comment added: there were 1200 people at the hearing}.

I ask the state Department of Health to make a financial commitment to the health care of our urban communities. A good place to pick up the pace is right here in Plainfield."

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Cory, your point regarding the holistic approach you outline in creating a permanent solution to Muhlenberg Hospital is valid as factors in ensuring the success of nationally and state funded entity. In some respects the actions of:

* Passing a Universal Health Care Bill
* Dealing with illegal aliens
* Adopting Charity Care

will provide some strategic approach to plan for a longer term operating environment. However, these factors that you outlined are complex ideals that do not provide sustainability to the hospital. These are more like life support rather than actually healing the wounds of infliction that are applied to an entity (hospital) that is not capable in providing for itself.

I was born in Muhlenberg Hospital and understand the need the existence of this physical presence for the city and it's people; and it is a shame that the synergistic corruption between corporation and government has created a situation that has manifested into this scenario.

Here is a financially bleeding hospital for at least the last 5 years, that was being exploited by Solaris and as you implicitly stated (although not quite directly) by illegal immigrants.

The hospital needs money to sustain; period. A method of state funds to maintain Muhlenberg would likely be necessary to kick start things, but there is no way that the hospital would be able to keep afloat if we (the collective we) continue to accept that illegal immigration which unfortunately means lack of insurance, is acceptable in our eyes.

There is a blatant cause and effect relationship between the fact that Plainfield's hospital takes the undocumented and uninsured people and the fact that the hospital is no longer financially sustainable.

What we pay in taxes to the city of Plainfield, to the state of New Jersey, and to the country of America to receive inadequate infrastructure and standards is wholeheartedly due to the economic conditions of running non-sustainable methods and practices. Simply put: a tactical and long term strategic position on addressing the situation in Plainfield is going need to make some people unhappy, at least those that were not expecting to in some way pay for their services, either with taxes or other forms.