Faces of the Uninsured Debuts at Statehouse
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
TRENTON, N.J. (June 23, 2009) -- Catholic Health East New Jersey (CHE-NJ), with the support of Senate Deputy Majority Leader Joseph F. Vitale, yesterday cast a spotlight on the Faces of the Uninsured with the debut of a Statehouse photo exhibit that profiles some New Jersey residents who are struggling to maintain their health without medical coverage.
As New Jersey legislators prepared to vote on the 2010 budget, CHE-NJ President and CEO Alexander J. Hatala urged support for New Jersey hospitals and critical health-care programs that provide care for the state's estimated 1.5 million uninsured residents, including 300,000 children. He asked state legislators to remember the exhibit's faces and poignant stories, as well as all who have lost their jobs and health insurance in recent months. Hatala also emphasized the need for lawmakers to help sustain the partnership between health-care providers and the State.
"On behalf of the men, women, and children we serve, I urge our legislators to recognize the tremendous importance of upholding the State's end of the partnership," said Hatala, who said that in 2009 CHE-NJ hospitals will provide more than $86.2 million in charity care services, delivering top-quality care to many people who do not have medical coverage and who -- because of age or income -- do not qualify for government programs.
"Our role in this partnership is to develop and implement innovative, cost-effective ways to provide the care New Jerseyans need and deserve. And our hospitals are doing just that -- in Newark, Trenton, Willingboro, and Camden," said Hatala. "The State's role in this health-care partnership is an essential one. Faith-based or secular, New Jersey hospitals all depend on the State to support our delivery of top-quality care by adequately funding Medicaid, medical education, charity care, and other programs that help ensure access to care for all in need."
With photographs by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Matt Rainey, the exhibit profiles some CHE-NJ patients challenged by diabetes, breast cancer, and injury and by life without health insurance. The exhibit includes a profile of a botanist who lost her job shortly before a recurrence of breast cancer; a mainframe computer operator who lost his job and cannot afford test strips for his diabetes; and a clinical psychologist who can no longer afford insurance and did not know what to do when her daughter, a talented soccer player, fractured her ankle.
Sen. Vitale, chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, was the legislative sponsor of the exhibit and called CHE-NJ "a terrific partner in providing health care to the insured and the uninsured."
Betsy Ryan, president and CEO of the New Jersey Hospital Association, said it is critical to put real stories behind the statistics of the uninsured for whom New Jersey's hospitals serve as a critical safety net.
"Charity care is a partnership," said Ryan, "with both our state and our hospitals sharing the responsibility of caring for those without health insurance."
"Will hospitals receive the support they need to continue delivering care to every New Jerseyan, regardless of his or her ability to pay?" asked Hatala. "We are counting on our partners in Trenton to remember the Faces of the Uninsured when they answer that question."
Catholic Health East New Jersey, the state's largest faith-based hospital system, operates Saint Michael's Medical Center in Newark, St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, and Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County in Willingboro.