Charity Care and How You Can Help

A Message from Alexander J. Hatala, President and CEO, Lourdes Health System.

Dear Lourdes Supporter:

I recently had the opportunity to provide testimony before the Senate Budget Committee on the Governor’s proposed budget and its impact on our hospitals and services in Camden and Burlington counties.  I do not envy the Governor and the members of the Legislature who are faced with the very difficult task of cutting hundreds of millions in spending from our state budget.

In fact, recognizing the extraordinary and dire fiscal times in which we now find ourselves, I have volunteered my time and resources by joining Governor Jon Corzine’s “Financial Restructuring and Debt Reduction Steering Committee.”  I believe that until New Jersey gets its fiscal house in order and restores certainty and reliability to the state budget; non-profits such as Lourdes Health System will continue to be at the mercy of the fiscal roller coaster that has become the norm and which threatens programs from year to year.  I further believe that nothing does more damage to the programs and services of well-intentioned non-profits and the citizens we serve than the “on-again, off-again” fiscal spigot that has come to epitomize Trenton.

This year’s state budget cuts proposed by the Governor have the potential to inflict pain and suffering on a great number of our citizens.  In no arena is that possibility more evident than in the budget cuts proposed for the state’s hospitals.  The cuts to charity care, which provides partial state reimbursement for medical services delivered to the working poor who are without health insurance, will be particularly difficult for Lourdes and many of our struggling state hospitals to absorb.

In my testimony, I asked Legislators to consider rewriting the state’s charity care formula to restore a measure of fairness in the distribution of these limited funds. Under the current charity care formula, some hospitals, designated as so-called “Safety Net Hospitals,” in urban areas receive 96 cents for every dollar of charity care they dispense.  Others, in the very same city and often just blocks away, get a little more than 40 cents for treating the very same patients.  Lourdes is in the latter category.

In rewriting the Charity Care formula, I recommended to Legislators that they create “Safety Net Zones” rather than Safety Net facilities, as called for in the current formula. I asked them not to favor hospitals which are in direct competition with one another by arbitrarily creating a state designation for one and not the others.  In short, I said they should “protect the patient rather than the facility.”

Now we at Lourdes need your help to get our message across to all legislators!  In the days and weeks ahead we will be asking you to join our “Protect the Patient Campaign” and contact key legislators to let them know that you support our effort to create new “Safety Net Zones” in an updated charity care formula.  I know that you will take the time to make this important new campaign a success.

Please check this page often for instructions on how you can help.

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