New Jersey’s hospitals are slated to get back a combined $150 million from the federal government after the Biden administration nixed a pair of Trump-era rules.
The rules were pushed by then-President Donald Trump’s administration in 2018 and handled how rural hospitals received federal dollars. Specifically, they nullified a waiver put in place in 2005 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that allowed some of New Jersey’s hospitals to be classified as rural hospitals, making them qualify for higher reimbursement even though the entire state is classified as “urban.”
The rule would have been particularly devastating for the state’s hospitals after many of them were in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, handling the cost of numerous peaks then and now, in addition to vaccination efforts, according to U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat.
“At a time when New Jersey’s hospitals, doctors and nurses are still on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, the injection of millions of dollars in annual federal funding into our hospitals will help them attract and retain the best talent as well continue to provide high-quality care for New Jerseyans,” Menendez said in an Aug. 26 statement.
The hospitals were able to apply for the waivers beginning in 2005 to get higher levels of funding reserved for less-populated segments of the country. Trump nixed the waiver in 2018, but it was reenacted as part of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package Biden approved in March.
Thirty-seven hospitals would see this combined bump in $146.5 million over the next year, according to the New Jersey Hospital Association trade group.
“The reinstatement of this provision ensures that our state’s hospitals are able to compete on a level playing field to keep these critical caregivers right here in New Jersey,” said NJHA President and Chief Executive Officer Cathy Bennett.
Another CMS rule will simply be pushed back until Sept. 30, 2022, under which the Trump administration would have taken Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties out of the New York-Newark-Jersey City statistical area.
The inclusion of those counties was used to calculate area hospitals’ reimbursement rates, and would have taken a bit out of the rates for several major hospitals owned by health care networks Atlantic Health System, Hackensack Meridian Health and RWJBarnabas Health.
NJHA estimated that the delay of that rule would save several of those hospitals a combined $3.5 million over the next year.
“This flow of millions in annual federal dollars will lift up our heroes when they need it most by allowing New Jersey hospitals to retain doctors and nurses and continue saving lives,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., a Democrat.