Highlights Governor’s call to address chronic “superusers” in emergency rooms
(CAMDEN) – Assemblyman Angel Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester) has reintroduced his “NJ Social Innovation Act,” which was pocket vetoed at the end of last session. The bill seeks to reduce government and taxpayer healthcare costs by decreasing chronic emergency room use through improved care.
“Everyone agrees that we have to change the way we approach chronic ‘super-users’ in our emergency rooms,” said Assemblyman Fuentes. “Programs already exist that help identify these individuals and get them access to the care they need. Expanding these programs takes investment before savings can be realized, and that’s where the Social Innovation Act comes in.”
The “NJ Social Innovation Act” utilizes social financing, a private-public partnership funding system known as “pay for success” which is rapidly gaining traction across the country, to fund non-profits aimed at increasing comprehensive care for individuals who visit emergency rooms multiple times in a year. These non-profits seek to improve the quality of healthcare provided to patients with chronic ailments who are not accessing the preventive care they need, or those without a general physician. Private investors who participate in the pilot program will realize a return on their contribution if specific goals – including governmental cost-savings – are met.
In his budget speech, Governor Christie highlighted recent research showing that 5 percent of Medicaid patients account for 50 percent of the costs. Earlier studies in Camden have shown similar results, with 1 percent of emergency room patients accounting for 30 percent of costs to Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance.
“Expanding the programs that have demonstrated success at improving residents’ health and saving taxpayer dollars is common sense,” Assemblyman Fuentes added. “The Governor has indicated that he’s ready to see this issue addressed, and the ‘Social Innovation Act’ can help our state move forward in a fiscally responsible way.”
Though the bill was pocket-vetoed last session, Assemblyman Fuentes feels confident that the time is right for the legislature to take up this issue again. States such as New York and Massachusetts have already established programs to reduce recidivism and poverty.
The social financing community has expressed strong support for the legislation, citing its potential as a funding mechanism to address a wide variety of social issues.