Morristown Memorial Hospital and Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, would have their charity care aid wiped out entirely!Hospitals in Jersey City, New­ark, Morristown and Perth Amboy would be among the biggest losers under a proposed state funding formula that would slash nearly $142 million in charity care payments for treating the uninsured, according to an analysis obtained by The Star-Ledger.

A total of 22 hospitals, including Morristown Memorial Hospital and Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, would have their charity care aid wiped out entirely, the review by the New Jersey Hospital Association concludes. Its figures show 62 hospitals would lose aid, while only 18 would get a boost.

The analysis was based on data from the state Department of Health and Senior Services. Donna Leusner, spokeswoman for the health department, did not dispute the trade groups numbers but said they are preliminary and subject to change as lawmakers and Gov. Jon Corzine review his proposed $33 billion budget.

Jersey City Medical Center would suffer a cut of nearly $42 mil­lion, the biggest funding reduction in the state. Its aid would be cut about 50 percent to $41.6 million.

"There's no way that the hospital can absorb a cut like that without serious cuts in what it offers the public," said John McKeegan, spokesman for LibertyHealth, which includes the hospital. He said said 60 percent of its pa­tients are dependent on either Medicaid or charity care.

Newark Beth Israel Medical Center would lose $16.3 million, while Raritan Bay Medical Center-Perth Amboy would have to oper­ate with $10 million less. Thirty-three hospitals would lose at least $1 million.

Twenty-two hospitals would lose all their charity care funding. Of those, Morristown Memorial Hospital has the most to lose: $8.4 million. State-certified data showed the hospital provided $23 million in charity care last year.

"It's surprising and disturbing because its not like you can go out and make that money up, said
Joan Lebow, director of public relations and marketing for Atlantic Health, which includes the hospital. "We know the governor realizes how important hospitals are to the state. We hope to see the money restored."

Among the 18 hospitals that are slated to get more funding, the big­gest winner would be Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth, which would have an $8.8 million boost.

Leusner said Corzine's revamped formula is intended to direct the state's limited funding to the hospitals that need it most. Hospitals that serve a dispro­portionate number of charity care patients would see increases, she said.

Elizabeth Ryan, chief operating officer of the New Jersey Hospital Association, said under Corzine's funding plan, no hospital in the state would be fully compensated for the free care they offer. Her group will be working to block the cuts.

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