THURSDAY OCTOBER 20, 2011
New Jersey and the rest of our nation continue to struggle with unemployment. President Obama has been on a cross-country bus tour touting his “Jobs” plan, and the GOP candidates have made jobs a central part of their debates. Meanwhile, Congress has been unable to forge any consensus on a jobs bill. But here in New Jersey, hospitals and healthcare providers are providing a glimmer of hope.
Healthcare employment increased 1.5 percent in New Jersey in 2010, according to a recent report from the state Department of Labor and Workforce. That same report says that the “healthcare and social assistance” sector remains the largest source of private-sector jobs in New Jersey, employing 493,410 people stateside. Of these, New Jersey hospitals provide about 140,000 jobs and about $18.6 billion in total contributions to the state’s economy. On the national level, healthcare recorded 44,000 new jobs in the September jobs report. The August report had shown healthcare as the lone source of new jobs in our otherwise stagnant employment market.
So New Jersey’s healthcare community is a source for hope, not just for the quality care we provide to people in their times of need, but because we are one of the only economic engines generating new jobs. My hope is that those contributions are not stamped out due to new cuts being contemplated on Capitol Hill. If the so-called “Super Committee” charged with reducing the federal budget deficit fails to identify $1.2 billion in cuts and secure both congressional and presidential approval, the healthcare provider industry is slated to be cut by 2 percent. This would cut N.J. hospital and post-acute care providers by about $130 million in its first year – on top of $4.5 billion in cuts New Jersey hospitals will shoulder under the Affordable Care Act. An analysis by the American Hospital Association shows that the proposed 2 percent Medicare cut would result in 200,000 hospital jobs lost nationwide.
So while Congress can’t agree on a “Jobs” bill, my plea is that we avoid stamping out one of the only glimmers of hope in our economy by enacting more cuts to healthcare.