In the News
Dems Urge Republicans to Put Jobs 1st in Deficit Reduction Plans
A day after Republicans in the House and Senate announced their picks for the Joint Select Committee to recommend ways to reduce the federal deficit as part of the debt ceiling compromise, New Jersey’s two senators and 21 other Senate Democrats asked them to put jobs first.
Watertown Daily Times:
During the debate over the health care reform law, there were lots of deals made granting special treatment to one state or another to win support for the bill. Some of them like the “Second Louisiana Purchase” and another for Nevada for special Medicaid treatment made it into law. Others like the Cornhusker Kickback for Nebraska did not. Now, we learn that Massachusetts will reap an additional $275 million in Medicare funds that will be taken from other states, among them New York, as the result of language inserted by Sen. John F. Kerry.
His amendment caps a convoluted process that began in 2007 in an attempt by Massachusetts to use Medicare rules to leverage higher payments by changing the designation of a Nantucket hospital to rural status, bringing into play other obscure Medicare regulations.
One requires reimbursement for wages at urban hospitals to be at least as much as rural hospitals. Since the two island hospitals had high labor costs the reclassification served to raise payments to the state’s urban hospitals. But another rule says the adjustments cannot lead to an overall increase in Medicare funding, which is set nationally. So the extra money for Massachusetts comes out of other states’ share.
Medicare tried to block the change until Sen. Kerry with support from Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey inserted his amendment into the health law clearing the way for the transition. Sen. Menedez’s endorsement paid off. New Jersey will get another $54 million, the second highest amount of seven states that will come out ahead.
Massachusetts officials say the change, which takes effect in October, makes up for money the state lost through a rule change several years ago.
Forty-one states will lose money, but the biggest loser will be New York, where hospitals will be out $47.5 million, the Associated Press reported.
The American Hospital Association, which supported the Affordable Health Care Act, says it did not understand the provision.
“You have this small hospital, sitting on an island in the Atlantic Ocean, having a profund impact on hospital payments across the country,” Herb Kuhn, president of the Missouri Hospital Association, told the Boston Globe.
It is an example of how politicians and others can manipulate a system, carving out special treatment, favors and loopholes that makes Medicare reform more difficult.
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Zufall Health Center Awarded $817,000 in Federal Funds for New Facility in Hackettstown
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $817,000 to New Jersey’s Zufall Health Center to open a new satellite facility in Hackettstown to provide free or low-cost health care services to low-income community members, according to a press release issued Aug. 10 by U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez.
The funding was made available through the Health Care Reform Law.
Zufall Health Center provides primary care medical, dental, mental health and substance abuse services for residents in the surrounding area. Zufall estimates the new facility will serve more than 3,400 new patients in its first year of operation.
“All New Jerseyans should have access to quality health care services, and the Zufall Health Center does important work to reach many of our state’s underserved communities,” Lautenberg said. “This federal funding will allow the Zufall Center to remove barriers to affordable care for thousands of New Jerseyans. The health reform law is helping level the playing field and make quality care attainable for all Americans, and this funding takes an important step in that direction.”
“The Zufall Health Center is a critical resource for our low income communities, and with this funding, thousands of New Jerseyans will now have access to an affordable, high quality health care facility,” Menendez said. “This is one more example of the positive impact the Health Care Reform law is having in meeting the health care needs of our families. When we invest in the health of our families, we invest in the well being of our communities.”
My Central Jersey:
Push to Save N.J.’s Health Centers
Make no mistake, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said: While National Health Center Week is a time to celebrate the facilities whose mission is to provide quality health care to residents who otherwise might not be able to afford it, this year it’s also a time to get ready to defend them.
Berkeley Heights Patch :
Resolution Passed by Senate Calls for 9/11 Moment of Remembrance
Today, U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) unveiled a new video with Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) calling on Americans to come together as a nation for a Moment of Remembrance at 1 p.m. EDT on September 11, 2011.
The Daily Journal :
CompleteCare Celebrates Healthy Children, Families
Health professionals offered free medical care to children Tuesday as part of a weeklong effort to draw attention to federally funded health centers.
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The Bergen Record:
Long Awaited Meeting Place Now a Reality at Paramus Veterans Home
Hundreds of military veterans — most of whom served in World War II and Korea — will now have a place to share their stories and memories, with the opening of a new 7,000-square-foot multipurpose room at the Veterans Memorial Home.
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