New Jersey hospital CEOs: Patients should receive needed information before being transferred out of state

Three New Jersey hospital CEOs are throwing their support behind a state proposal that would require the disclosure of information to patients who are being referred or transferred to an out-of-state hospital or provider, according to an opinion piece published on

The piece is written by Robert Garrett, Brian Gragnolati and Barry Ostrowsky — the CEOs of Edison-based Hackensack Meridian Health, Morristown-based Atlantic Health System and West Orange-based RWJBarnabas Health, respectively.

In the piece, they say that despite the state's skilled physicians and nurses — and 13 academic health systems — a "significant number" of patients are referred or transferred to out-of-state healthcare providers and hospitals, with some estimates indicating state residents spend more than $2 billion annually on out-of-state healthcare services.

"Often these patients are paying considerably more for their out-of-state health care and receiving care that is equal to or less effective than they could have received at hospitals in New Jersey," they wrote. "With healthcare consumers paying a larger percentage of their health care costs through higher deductibles, copayments and coinsurance, paying more for the same quality of care further from home makes little sense."

That's why the CEOs said they support providing these patients with information they need to make an informed decision, and raising awareness of consumer protections such as New Jersey's surprise-billing law.

Under a new bill introduced in the state legislature entitled the New Jersey Patient Protection Act, physicians and hospitals seeking to refer or transfer a patient would have to notify the patient, and document in the patient record, regarding his or her right to receive care at a facility of choice, according to a news release.

Physicians and hospitals also would have to notify the patient regarding the clinical reason for the transfer outside of New Jersey, the location of the hospital or provider, and the availability of clinically appropriate services at nearby in-state facilities. In a trauma situation, physicians and hospitals would have to tell  the patient  why he or she is not being transferred to a Level 1 or Level 2 trauma center in New Jersey.

"The New Jersey Patient Protection Act was just recently introduced by the legislature and was considered in the Assembly Health Committee today. It is the first step in the legislature's careful consideration of a bill which, if enacted, would enhance consumer information while protecting patient choice," the CEOs told Becker's via email.

"In general, our hospitals and health systems continuously strive to ensure that our patients are educated and engaged in their own healthcare decisions.  We strongly believe this bill will provide another mechanism to support our patients and the people of New Jersey," they added.


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