The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders has the opportunity to put the County on a more stable financial footing.
Since 2007 the County healthcare facilities John L. Montgomery, Freehold Township and Geraldine L. Thompson, Wall Township have ensued losses of over 40 million dollars of taxpayers money. This financial hole deepens and widens as the Federal Healthcare law draws money from Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Medicaid is the primary source of funding for both facilities.
Both facilities have served the County citizens well by providing professional health care to those most in need. The staff of both facilities have been exceptionally generous in union negotiations and are applauded for their exceptional caring and nurturing compassion for the residents.
Thompson and Montgomery are both Medicaid based and with the federal Healthcare Act in full thrust Medicaid payments that already were dwindling will continue to decline with no end in sight. The burden of deficit will now be thrown on the backs of Monmouth County taxpayers. The healthcare industry has evolved into a comprehensive healthcare system with private corporations leading the way. This advanced care is supplied through a myriad of pay systems inclusive of Medicaid and it is now the private sector that provides state of the art healthcare with greater efficiency. Medicaid patients make up a large percentage of the private healthcare resident facility population.
The Board of Chosen Freeholders will use 43 million dollars of reserves in the 2014 budget to bring in a flat rate and hope that fees from a stimulated economy will regenerate this crucial aspect of budgeting. The County’s AAA bond rating is dependant upon sound financial management because the AAA bond rating provides a conduit for municipalities and school boards to borrow at a vast savings to their respective constituencies.
Successful transitions are not foreign to New Jersey with Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Essex, Mercer, Salem, Sussex and Hudson all successfully privatizing. The Union County Freeholders have recently voted to sell its long term health facility and is presently reviewing responses for its request from potential buyers. Any agreement between Monmouth County and a private healthcare company should stipulate equal or better care for our residents and guaranteed employment for our existing healthcare staff. The quality of health services would be undisturbed, the employees protected and the financial burden lifted from the taxpayers.
An eighteen month operations review was sanctioned by the Freeholders and now two years later it has been determined that Montgomery and Thompson will never generate enough revenue to keep up with today’s rapidly escalating costs. In an attempt to develop a marketing strategy and to seek additional revenue sources discussions started long before the federal Healthcare Act became a reality and included a cost benefit analysis for creating a senior day-stay program. Final analysis determined this potential use to be cost ineffective further plunging the facilities into deeper debt.
With operating costs at Geraldine L. Thompson at approximately $11.1 million and John L. Montgomery at approximately $12.7 million and with escalating cost of facility maintenance, these costs are exclusive of other indirect costs that would make the operational budget even larger. It is time for Monmouth County to provide a 21st century commitment to healthcare. It is time to get government out of the nursing home business and allow the private sector to provide this service.
Monmouth County Freeholder John P. Curley