SECAUCUS AND BEYOND -- A story in Monday's Star Ledger says that Meadowlands Hospital in Secaucus -- which has been under scrutiny since a nurses' union complained to the state about various practices earlier this year -- is billing insurance companies up to 3,000 times the normal rate for patients who need certain types of surgery on an outpatient basis.
The story notes:
New Jersey is set to clamp down on a North Jersey hospital that insurance companies claim is billing them as much as 3,000 percent more than its own outpatient surgery centers charge for the same treatment.
Part of the plan by Gov. Chris Christie’s administration to contain rising auto insurance rates targets the business practices of Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus, bought in December by the owners of three surgery centers in Bergen and Essex counties.
Since then, the new owners have been referring auto accident victims from their same-day surgery center to Meadowlands to take advantage of a fee loophole, according to insurance executives and confirmed by the Department of Banking and Insurance. The state limits what same-day surgery centers may charge, but it does not regulate what hospitals may charge for most outpatient care. And at Meadowlands, that difference can be substantial insurers and state officials say.
According to the Insurance Council of New Jersey:
• Same-day surgery centers that perform knee arthroscopy — inserting a tiny camera after small cuts are made to the knee — can bill an insurance company no more than $3,000. Meadowlands hospital, doing the same surgery on an outpatient basis, charges $90,000, or 3,000 percent more...
Meadowlands was purchased by a group of investors last year who changed its status from non-profit to for-profit, a trend for hospitals in Hudson County and across the country.
The state conducted an inspection of the hospital this year after a nurses' union complained about what they said were poor health practices. The owners blamed the hospital's previous owners, and also said the union was objecting to doing more work. In an article in the Secaucus Reporter, they called the union a "malignant, cancerous, malicious organization."
For links to articles on that topic, see below.