Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Will Christie's charity care cuts push JFK over the edge?

Will Gov. Christie's revised charity-care payments to hospitals negatively affect Plainfield residents?

The question may well be asked after reports (see the Courier here, and the Ledger here) reveal that both Solaris' JFK (Muhlenberg isn't even mentioned any more) and Trinitas (which takes Plainfield's obstetrics cases) are looking at severe cuts under the new scheme.

JFK stands to lose $2.2 million and Trinitas $923,000.

Most worrisome to Plainfielders will be the JFK loss of funding, since Solaris must not only fund the operation of the JFK campus in Edison, but the Muhlenberg satellite emergency room, under the terms of the Certificate of Need allowing Solaris to shut down Muhlenberg in 2008.

With the long-term existence of the Muhlenberg SED a concern for Plainfielders and the issue of a new ambulance for Plainfield unresolved, the funding cut puts dark clouds on Plainfield's healthcare horizon.

This comes on top of persistent rumors that Solaris is on and ever more shaky financial footing, even having gone so far as putting its -- profitable -- home health care operation on the market.

If you're needing to sell off one of your money-making 'crown jewels', what does your future look like?

What would the healthcare map look like if JFK were gone?

What would the negative impacts be on delivery of healthcare services in the Muhlenberg service area, which includes Plainfield and twelve other communities?

Would EMT services be even more stressed out, with farther distances to go?

Would Plainfielders be at greater risk of negative -- or even fatal -- outcomes for cardiac or stroke emergencies?

Is there a calculation being made here that Plainfield lives are less valuable and more dispensable than others?

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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