Thomas B. Considine, chief executive of the for-profit Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, said Monday that Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd's recommendation Friday that all hospitals disclose to the public their annual financial statements does not go far enough.
Considine said he would expand this disclosure throughout the health care sector, including to health insurers, large physician practices and companies that operate ambulatory surgery centers throughout the state.
However, Considine did not come out and endorse O’Dowd’s recommendations, made Friday evening, saying he needs more time to study them: “I need to see some consensus in the hospital community, but I am not opposed to the posting of the audited reports, conceptually.”
“We at Meadowlands are not opposed to the concept of transparency, but I believe transparency should extend through the health care sector,” Considine said, adding that if the Legislature “wishes to extend transparency all across the health care sector, we will wholeheartedly endorse, support and work for the passage of that.
“What is good for the goose is good for the gander.”
O’Dowd issued a recommendation that included requiring all hospitals, for-profit or nonprofit, to post their annual audited financial statements on their websites, and also post their quarterly unaudited financial statements.
Right now, nonprofit hospitals report their finances to the IRS each year in a document that is available to the public. For-profit hospitals report financials to the Department of Health, and the public can obtain them through an Open Public Records Act request.
Considine said that, right now, some of the information that is available via OPRA requests is not provided to the public because it is considered proprietary information, and he said that should continue to be the case if for-profit hospitals post their annual reports on their website.
“My instinct is there could be information (in annual reports) that gets into some information that could be proprietary,” and therefore should not be required to be made public.
The New Jersey Hospital Association raised concerns about O’Dowd’s recommendation that all hospitals post unaudited quarterly financial statements on their website, and Considine agrees with NJHA: “Those are internal working documents” and should not be made public.
Considine took over as CEO of Meadowlands on May 1. The hospital has not yet provided 2012 and 2013 financial reports to the DOH, but he said the 2012 report will be filed soon, followed by the 2013 report.
O’Dowd’s recommendations do not require for-profit hospitals to disclose the compensation of their most highly-paid executives — information that nonprofit hospitals disclose on their Form 990 annual reports with the IRS.
Considine said he agrees with O’Dowd’s recommendation.
“For-profit companies have private capital involved, (which involves) private information that has the right to be private.”
O’Dowd also recommended that hospitals make public which insurance companies are in their network, and Considine agreed that hospitals should post on their websites which insurers they are in network with.
The for profit California-based Prime Healthcare Service is seeking to acquire three New Jersey hospitals: St. Mary's in Passaic, Saint Clare's in Denville and Saint Michael's in Newark.
Asked to comment on O'Dowd's recommendations, Prime spokesman Edward Barrera said:
“While we are still reviewing the recommendations, Prime Healthcare is committed to financial transparency of for-profit and nonprofit hospitals and intends to be a good corporate citizen.”
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