Bergen's request for new management attracts team of unexpected allies

Frustrated by a lack of transparency in its operating system and various problems over the last 19 years, Bergen County, N.J., is seeking a new manager for Paramus, N.J.-based Bergen Regional Medical Center. Amid a dozen responses, one unlikely team of healthcare organizations in the area has emerged as a top contender, though its members have recently been divided by a contentious insurance debate, according to NJBIZ.

The 1,000-bed BergenRegionalMedicalCenter is the fourth-largest publicly owned hospital in the U.S. Its current management contract is due to expire March 15, 2017, according to the report.

Wyckoff, N.J.-based Christian Health Care Center, Englewood (N.J.) Hospital and Medical Center, Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center, Teaneck, N.J.-based Holy Name Medical Center and Ridgewood, N.J.-based Valley Health System, have submitted independent proposals to jointly manage Bergen Regional Medical Center.

At issue between the hospitals is Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey's tiered OMNIA Health plan, which splits nearly all of the state's hospitals and health systems into two tiers. Providers in the top tier offer services to plan members at a reduced cost, and all other hospitals remain at the normal in-network price. Many Catholic hospitals and safety-net hospitals were left out of the top tier, saying this put them at a stark disadvantage and leading them to sue Horizon. In early June, the Appelate Division of New Jersey's Superior Court upheld the Department of Banking and Insurance's approval of the tiered health network.

Although the hospital members of the coalition said it is too early to say how its members would work together, it provided the following statement to NJBIZ:

"We are pleased to come together as a coalition of Bergen County healthcare providers to jointly submit our responses to the Bergen County Improvement Authority's Request for Information as part of its exploration of options related to the future operation of Bergen Regional Medical Center […] we look forward to moving ahead with the due diligence process and collectively ensure that the vital role and important range of services provided at Bergen Regional continues and is enhanced to better serve the community."

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