Can New Jersey's budget fix the Medicaid physician shortage? 4 things to know

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's proposed fiscal year 2016 budget, unveiled Tuesday, takes aim at managing the state's influx of newly insured Medicaid patients by redistributing funds, according to

Here are four things to know about Gov. Christie's proposed budget and the implications on healthcare in New Jersey.

1. Under the PPACA, roughly 400,000 New Jersey residents now receive government-funded health insurance and about 253,000 more have purchased private health plans on However, many Medicaid beneficiaries have trouble finding physicians who will treat them because New Jersey offers physicians some of the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates in the nation, according to the report.

2. Gov. Christie's budget would increase Medicaid reimbursements by $45 million annually. "That would be a tremendous start to fixing the problem," Larry Downs, CEO of the Medical Society of New Jersey, told It is difficult to predict if this will be enough to incentivize physicians to take on more Medicaid patients, but it is a step in the right direction, he said.

3. The state's 42 teaching hospitals would receive increased funds for residency programs. The budget includes a $27.3 million bump in funds for hospitals that train new physicians, which will help address the shortage since physicians typically practice in the state where they train.

4. The budget would effectively result in a $148 million cut to hospital charity care. To make room for increased Medicaid reimbursements and residency funds, the budget would cut $74 million from hospital charity care, which would cause the state to forfeit $74 million in matching federal funds. This provision has been met with mixed reviews. Some believe it is a natural consequence of increased health insurance coverage — as more residents are covered by insurance, less people will need to seek care in the emergency room and the funds won't be needed. However, some disagree with this cut because 11.7 percent of the population, about 1 million people, remains uninsured.

"Cutting charity care funding would be devastating to our hospitals and ultimately to our patients. Additionally, this policy is fiscally irresponsible, as it would leave millions of dollars of matching federal dollars on the table," Sister Patricia Codey, president of the Catholic HealthCare Partnership of New Jersey, told


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