Throughout this year, the New Jersey Legislature has passed numerous bills that impact health care providers in the State. Over the past month, the Legislature continued to do so with the passage of several bills as noted below.
Requirements for Treating Trauma Patients Are Revised
The New Jersey Legislature passed A5103/S3219 requiring each emergency medical services provider in the State, as a condition of licensure to treat trauma patients, to certify that its standards, practices, and protocols are in accordance with the “Guidelines for Field Triage of Injured Patients, Recommendations of the National Expert Panel on Field Triage, 2011; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MMWR, January 13, 2012, Vol. 61, No. 1,” or successor guidance. Moreover, the bill requires each general acute care hospital in the State to maintain trauma patient transfer criteria and transfer agreements, which provide for the effective and efficient transfer of patients requiring the services of a trauma center, and instructs the Department of Health to post on its website each hospital’s transfer criteria and transfer agreements.
Reinstating the Property Tax Exception for Non-Profit Hospitals
The New Jersey Legislature passed a bill (A1135/S357) which reinstates the property tax exempt status of nonprofit hospitals, including satellite emergency care facilities, with for-profit medical providers on site. However, the bill provides that these hospitals will be required to pay annual community service contributions to their host municipalities to offset the costs of municipal services which directly benefit these hospitals and their employees. For tax year 2021, the bill provides that the annual community service contribution for a hospital shall be equal to $3 a day for each licensed bed at the hospital in the prior tax year, and the contribution for a satellite emergency care facility would be equal to $300 for each day in the prior tax year. Similarly, for tax year 2022 and each tax year thereafter, the bill provides that the per day amount used to calculate the community service contribution for a hospital and a satellite emergency care facility would increase by two percent over the prior tax year.
New Jersey Expands Licensure to Certain Hospitals to Provide Adult Cardiac and Angioplasty Services
The New Jersey Legislature passed A1176/S515 that allows more New Jersey facilities to perform certain cardiac interventions. The new bill requires the Department of Health (“DOH”) to license certain hospitals to provide full service adult diagnostic cardiac catheterization, primary angioplasty, and elective angioplasty services.
Under the bill, a hospital that is not currently licensed as a cardiac surgery center may apply to the Commissioner of Health (“Commissioner”) for:
i. a license to provide full service diagnostic cardiac catheterization services, provided that, commencing in the second year of licensure, and in each year thereafter, the hospital performs at least 250 catheterizations per year, with each interventional cardiologist performing at least 50 catheterizations per year. However, the hospital will be required to participate in the DOH’s data collection programs and in national registries to monitor quality, outcomes, and compliance with State regulations;
ii. a license to provide primary angioplasty services, which are angioplasty procedures performed on an acute or emergency basis, provided the hospital has been licensed to provide full service adult diagnostic catheterization services under the bill for at least six months; and
iii. a license to provide elective angioplasty services, provided the hospital is licensed to provide primary angioplasty services under the bill or was licensed to participate in the Atlantic Cardiovascular Patient Outcomes Research Team Elective Angioplasty Study (“CPORT-E”) clinical trial or the State Elective Angioplasty Demonstration Project, and, commencing in the second year of licensure, and in each year thereafter, performs a minimum of 200 elective angioplasty procedures per year, with each interventional cardiologist performing at least 50 elective angioplasty procedures per year. The hospital will additionally be required to ensure all prospective elective angioplasty patients undergo careful selection, screening, and risk stratification.
The bill imposes a number of additional requirements on the hospital applicant including that the hospital must enter into a collaboration agreement with a licensed cardiac surgery center and that the agreement is to include written protocols for transferring patients requiring emergency cardiac surgery to the licensed cardiac surgery center, regular consultation between the hospitals on individual cases, and evidence of adequate cardiac surgery on-call backup.
Reorganizing of a Health Services Corporation
A5119/S3218 provides for the reorganization of a health services corporation. Under the bill, a mutual holding company may not be established as a company organized for pecuniary profit and retain the designation as a charitable and benevolent institution pursuant to current law. Furthermore, the bill provides that the mission of a mutual holding company is to: i) provide affordable and accessible health insurance to its members; ii) promote the integration of the health care system to meet the needs of its members; and iii) promote innovation and delivery of solutions and diversified services for its members. Under the bill, all property, assets, rights, liabilities, interest, and relations of whatever kind of the health service corporation, and its subsidiaries, will be that of the mutual holding company system. The bill also provides that the provisions of current law that exempt health service corporations from taxes other than taxes on real estate and equipment and taxes on premiums continue to apply to a mutual holding company if the mutual holding company continues to participate in the New Jersey Individual Health Coverage Program and the New Jersey Small Employer Health Benefits Program.
NJ Health Care Facilities Must Report Certain COVID-19 Data to Health Care Workers and Certain First Responders
The New Jersey Legislature passed a bill (A4129/S2384) which requires general acute care hospitals, special hospitals, ambulatory care facilities, ambulatory surgical centers, assisted living facilities, home health agencies, nursing homes, and hospice programs to report to the DOH either directly or through a non-profit trade association, on a bi‑monthly basis, de‑identified data on the number of health care professionals, ancillary health care workers, and emergency medical services personnel employed by the facility who tested positive for COVID‑19 and who died from COVID‑19. Moreover, the bill requires that the information reported under the bill be filed in a certain form and manner. The bill also requires that the DOH issue a report concerning the occupational data received pursuant to the bill no later than 12 months after the end of both the state of emergency and public health emergency declared in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bill Clarifying County Option Hospital Fee Pilot Program Fees
The New Jersey Legislature passed a bill (A5089/S3252) clarifying that the County Option Hospital Fee Pilot Program is to expire five years after each participating county has collected a local health care-related fee, which is authorized to be imposed under existing law. Under current law, participating counties cannot collect this fee until the State receives any necessary federal approvals to implement the provisions of the existing law and to secure federal financial participation for related State Medicaid expenditures. However, the uncertainty of these approvals may result in the pilot expiring before the provisions of the law have been implemented. To that end, the bill provides that upon the collection of the fee by each participating county, the pilot program will have five years in which to fully operate. The bill also provides that a participating county is not to be liable for any amount of a local health care‑related fee imposed on a hospital pursuant to the existing law that the hospital fails to pay or does not pay in a timely manner to the assessing county.
NJ Governor Vetoes Bill Requiring Certain Provisions in State Contracts for Delivery of Publicly‑Financed Mental Health, Behavioral Health, and Addiction Services
Governor Murphy issued a conditional veto for bill (A4446/S2708). The bill requires that any contract entered into or renewed by the Department of Human Services or the Department of Children and Families with a private contractor for the provision of mental health, behavioral health, or addiction services would contain a commitment that the contracted services would not be disrupted or delayed by labor disputes. The originally passed bill explained how this commitment could be satisfied by the addition of provisions in the contract. As part of his conditional veto, Governor Murphy encouraged the Legislature to include an attestation process that would allow health care providers, with the approval of their collective bargaining representatives, the ability to certify that the health care service provider has entered into a labor harmony agreement with a union after entering into or renewing a contract with the State. Governor Murphy further proposed that “[w]here a provider fails to attest without a valid reason, the respective commissioner would institute corrective action to encourage immediate compliance.” On December 17, 2020 the New Jersey Senate implemented Governor Murphy’s recommendations and passed a revised version of the bill. However, the New Jersey Assembly has not yet followed suit.