Source: NJ.com Health
New Jersey has the nation’s most expensive hospitals, with Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus charging the highest rates in the country, according to an analysis of federal data by the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in the nation.
For every $100 in Medicare costs, New Jersey hospitals charge $583, based on claims from 2011 and 2012, said Charles Idelson, spokesman for the National Nurses United. Florida and California were the second and third most costly.
Meadowlands charged $1,192 for every $100 in cost — the highest at the top of the heap of about 4,300 hospitals, according to the report. Bayonne Medical Center was sixth-highest, charging $1,084.
“Whether you have insurance or not, the amount you are going to pay is based on what prices hospitals set and there is no way to verify whether it is legitimate or not,” said Jean Ross, a registered nurse for 40 years and co-president of the organization. “There is no way to police them, and it’s only gotten worse.”
The organization’s analysis differs from what the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released last spring, when it determined Bayonne was the most expensive hospital. The nurses organization compared what private insurance companies and government programs for all treatments and services, while the federal government only examined a select number of procedures paid for by Medicaid, Idelson said.
Meadowlands spokesman Ben Martin questioned the credibility of the findings. “They offer no clear procedure or methodology on how they reached the conclusions and statistics presented,” he said.
“Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center continues to invest in patient care and quality, as recognized by The Leapfrog Group,” a national organization of health experts that monitors hospital safety measures, Martin added. “The recent ‘A’ rating by Leapfrog demonstrates the hospital’s ongoing commitment to quality healthcare through its progression from a “C” facility to an “A” facility in a 12-month period. We prefer to operate based on our record of quality and safety, not on the emotional bias of the leaders of local and national unionized labor organizations.”
Representatives for Bayonne hospital could not be reached for comment.
The nurses’ group hopes its analysis will draw attention to the need for more regulation of what hospitals are allowed to charge — something the Affordable Care Act does not adequately address. Idelson said.
“We think there needs to be definite policy changes,” Idelson said. “We need tougher regulations on price gauging. Drug companies do it, medical supply companies, nursing homes do it. There are very weak price controls in the Affordable Care Act.”
The likeliest culprits are for-profit hospitals, which by their corporate structure do not have to disclose their financial information, he added. “There should be more public disclosure of what these prices are and why.”