The needler in the haystack.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Corzine on hospitals: More mush from the wimp




The Boston Globe's famous 1980 headline.

Plainfielders of a certain age will remember the 1980 gaffe in a headline by the
Boston Globe over a story on a talk by President Jimmy Carter on the economy.

I was put in mind of it today while reading the stories in both the Ledger and the Courier about Gov. Corzine telling New Jersey's hospital administrators yesterday why he was cutting aid for charity care -- yet again -- in his proposed FY2009 budget.

The problem with New Jersey's hospitals as with Muhlenberg, as everyone seems to agree, is unfunded charity care -- for which even less is proposed from year to year. It seems to me a cynical assault on those least organized, least vocal, and least able to fight back effectively. It is a gutlessness that will cost lives.

It didn't have to be this way.

The state commissioned a study on the rationalization of hospitals and state support of same. The problem with the study is that of almost all studies where elected officials are expected to pick from among unpalatable alternative policy proposals -- there is no prioritized list naming names of who should be closed and who should be kept open.

While Plainfielders might draw comfort from noting that the criteria for keeping a hospital open would seem to indicate Muhlenberg is a poster child for same, the gutlessness of the politicians leads to another outcome: the State has apparently already made up its mind that Muhlenberg will close.

Commissioner Heather Howard's public assertion that Muhlenberg's closing would allow JFK to die another day was simply shameful, though not labeled as such by any of the media, and evidence that the decision has been made in a smoke-filled room, and is being palmed off as 'transparency' by a rigged 'Certificate of Need' process.

All that letting the hospital situation unfold Corzine's way does is ensure NOT that there is some rationalization of hospital numbers, location and support in New Jersey, but that the politically connected and powerful will prevail and the rest will close their doors.

Muhlenberg being a case in point.

As a result, we have a governor's gutlessness turning into heartlessness and, ultimately, costing lives.

No wonder I recalled the Boston Globe headline: "More mush from the wimp".


-- Dan Damon
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