New Jersey’s 71 acute care hospitals continue to be a growing economic force in the state, contributing $22.7 billion to the state’s economy — an increase from $21.6 billion the previous year, according to the New Jersey Hospital Association.
Health care currently represents roughly 12 percent of the state’s jobs and is estimated to grow another 32 percent by 2024, according to the Department of Labor.
NJHA released its 2016 Economic Impact Report Wednesday detailing the economic contributions, as well as the financial summaries of hospitals in the state divided by location and hospital type.
“What is not reflected in these numbers is the ripple effect of hospital and health system expenditures; as the providers spend money to employ talented care givers and other professionals, they create jobs and economic opportunities for other businesses in the economy,” said Sean Hopkins, senior vice president of federal relations and health economics at NJHA.
The number of jobs increased from 141,000 to 141,800 from 2015, and includes 119,000 full-time jobs. This means an increase of $300,000 in employee payroll spending to total $8.7 billion, compared to 2015, and $483 million in state income tax paid by employees compared to $466 million.
Despite the mergers and consolidations in the health care industry, the economic power has not seen a downward shift, said NJHA President Betsy Ryan.
“When we are merging, we are coming together, but it doesn’t necessarily lessen the economic power and spend in the community. There might be a different name on the building, but it’s still in the community,” Ryan said.
Hospitals have seen continuous reductions in charity care money from the state each year, in what was seen as a swap for Medicaid expansion, paired with a reduction in Medicare disproportionate share funding when the Affordable Care Act rolled out.
The uncertainty at the federal level of how the new administration will deal with the ACA and Medicaid block grants, paired with what seems to be an uptick in charity care utilization in the state, may see that trend change, Ryan said.
“We cannot withstand more reductions,” she said. “We are just worried of the impact on providers.”
How the Medicaid grants will be administered or altered is a key concern, Ryan said.
“We have heard New Jersey has a bit of a target on its back because we have a very robust Medicaid program,” Ryan said.