TRENTON – The Senate Health Committee approved bill S2780 that would require surgery centers to be licensed by the Department of Health and Senior Services as ambulatory care facilities.
Waivers and tax exemptions would be granted in certain cases, according to amendments.
The bill, according to Sen. Joe Vitale, (D-19), of Woodbridge, who sponsored the bill with Sen. Robert Gordon, (D-38), Bergen, aims to make sure that “single-room (surgical) suites” have continuity of care and follow the same rules as multiple-room surgical facilities.
“Patients can be assured they are licensed and inspected in the same manner,” he said. “Many deficiencies were found in single-room facilities.”
The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, which testified before the committee, supports the bill, saying that it will help curb a growing problem.
Twenty-five of 91 facilities the health department looked at were found to be non-compliant with various requirements.
However, Tim Martin of the New Jersey Medical Society, described the bill as “trying to fit a square peg into a round hole,” adding that having the same level of bureaucracy does not necessarily increase the level of safety.
Vitale described the bill as “our best attempt to right what’s wrong.”
The New Jersey Hospital Association supports the bill, saying it “desires to ensure patients’ safety” and strives for uniformity in the way differently sized surgery centers are regulated.
However, other groups feared that facilities would have to be expanded to meet various criteria that medical facilities require, such as having separate waiting rooms for certain patients.
The New Jersey Association of Health Plans supports the bill as well.