MILAM, PRIETO, ALBANO & MORIARTY SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY VETERANS’ HOSPITAL BILL NOW LAW

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assemblymen Matthew Milam, Vincent Prieto, Nelson Albano and Paul Moriarty sponsored to establish a task force to study and make recommendations on how best to build and operate a veterans’ health care facility in southern New Jersey is now law.
The law (A-845) signed Monday morning creates an 18-member task force to devise a plan for the veterans hospital. It was co-sponsored by Assembly Democrats Jack Conners (D-Burlington/Camden), Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), Jason O’Donnell (D-Hudson) and Connie Wagner (D-Bergen).
“This is a great step forward for our veterans who deserve our best,” said Milam (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland). “Forcing our southern New Jersey veterans to travel long distances for health care is not acceptable. We need to do better, and this task force will help determine the best way possible to ensure veterans in southern New Jersey get the best health care possible.”
“A southern New Jersey veterans health facility will benefit not just those in that region, but veterans across the state,” said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). “A new facility will help ease waiting times and demand at our other veterans facilities, helping ensuring veterans throughout New Jersey are getting the attention they deserve.”
Southern New Jersey lacks a federal Department of Veterans Affairs inpatient veterans medical center, forcing veterans needing inpatient care to travel to veterans’ hospitals in northern New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware.
The VA has small clinics in Ventnor, Cape May and Vineland, but they only perform some outpatient medical services and are often overwhelmed by a large number of veterans seeking care.
“This is significant step toward properly helping the men and women who fought to protect our freedom, ” said Albano (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland). “They deserve a reasonably accessible hospital that can meet their often specialized health care needs.”
“Making our South Jersey veterans take long trips for health care is, quite simply, unacceptable,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). “We are now closer to fixing this problem and giving veterans the respect they’ve earned.”
This law establishes the New Jersey Veterans’ Hospital Task Force to study, evaluate and make recommendations related to the construction and operation of a veterans’ health care facility in southern New Jersey.
The task force will be comprised of 18 members as follows:
· The Adjutant General of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services;
· Two members of the Senate appointed by the President of the Senate, and two members of the General Assembly appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly;
· Twelve public members, to be appointed as follows:
· Two members appointed by the Governor – upon the recommendation of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association – who are veterans and active participants in the business community in southern New Jersey;
· Eight prominent veterans from throughout the state appointed by the Governor; and
· Two members appointed by the Governor who are subject matter experts from the NJ Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs.
It will be the duty of the task force to:
· Estimate the capital, operational and administrative expenses associated with establishing a new veterans’ health care facility in southern New Jersey, or contracting with an existing health care facility to provide medical services to veterans;
· Obtain and review statistical data on the number of veterans residing in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean and Salem counties and the number of veterans receiving medical services at hospitals within those counties in the past five years to determine a central location for a veterans’ health care facility;
· Determine the size and staffing levels necessary for a veterans’ health care facility to provide a full range of primary care and medical and surgical subspecialty care to eligible veterans;
· Review various methods of financing a veterans’ health care facility through public, private and public-private partnership financing systems; and
· Investigate opportunities for the state to enter into collaborative agreements with the federal government to ensure the most efficient use of funds and reDests related to the operation of a veterans’ health care facility.
The task force is to report to the governor and the Legislature no later than 12 months after its initial meeting.