Owners of Bayonne Medical Center/buyers of Hoboken hospital announce agreement with Blue Cross
Bayonne Medical Center (BMC) announced last week that it will once more be an in-network hospital for New Jersey’s largest healthcare insurance provider, Blue Cross/Blue Shield. The agreement will go into effect on Oct. 1. At the same time, Holdco, the company that co-owns BMC, said it had reached an in-network agreement for another hospital they are in the process of buying, Hoboken University Medical Center (HUMC).
The announcement is significant. One of the main concerns about Holdco was that they would cancel insurance contracts and go “out of network” in their attempts to obtain better reimbursement rates from health care companies as they did in Bayonne, subjecting patients to much higher fees for service.
In fact, Holdco said at a state Health Planning Board hearing in August that they would walk away from the purchase of Hoboken’s hospital if they were required to maintain the current contracts with insurance companies, and they were asked to take part in “good faith negotiations.” Blue Cross may have been recently forced to negotiate with BMC’s owners because Blue Cross lost a court case against them in August.
The Hoboken sale is awaiting approval from the state Commissioner of Health. The hospital must also settle its claims in bankruptcy court, which has garnered statewide attention over the past few weeks.
A press release from the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority stated that the sale of HUMC “is expected to be completed later this month.”
“It is great news for patients to have HUMC continue as an in-network provider with Horizon,” said HMHA Chairperson Toni Tomarazzo.
“I’m very pleased that Bayonne reached this deal,” Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer said on Friday. “It means that all city employees will have an in-network hospital they can rely on in Hoboken. This also demonstrates that the concerns raised by council members are completely unfounded. I cannot urge council members strongly enough to support the sale. It’s the only way to save our hospital and save our taxpayers.”
Former hospital attorney alleges city board committed fraud, report says
Donald Scarinci, the general counsel for Hoboken University Medical Center from 2009 until July 16, 2011, says he resigned because he feared the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority, a city board, was committing fraud by engineering the bankruptcy of the hospital, according to a report in the Star Ledger that cited court filings.
Scarinci said in court papers that the HMHA withheld millions in contractual payments to force a bankruptcy, according to the report.
When asked by the Reporter in late August if the HMHA withheld payments from the hospital’s management board, Hudson Healthcare Inc., spokesperson Doug Petkus denied the claim.
“HMHA did not withhold funds from HHI,” Petkus said in an e-mail to the Reporter last month. “HMHA has no independent source of revenue other than what the hospital itself generates. Funds generated from the hospital are used to satisfy the terms of the bonds and then the balance is distributed to HHI to operate the hospital.”
Petkus reiterated his stance in the Ledger report on Wednesday, and is quoted as saying the authority believes the accusations by Scarinci in court are “unfounded and false.”
The hospital’s debts must be settled before the sale of Hoboken University Medical Center to a group that also owns Bayonne Medical Center is complete, and a bankruptcy could quickly settle the claims.
The sale is awaiting final approval from the state Commissioner of Health, who must issue a Certificate of Need before the transfer of ownership is complete.
Mayor Dawn Zimmer, a member of the HMHA, has said she would like to sell the hospital to a private buyer to keep the hospital open and relieve taxpayers of a $52 million bond guarantee that was made by the city after it stepped in to save the hospital from closure in 2007.
The hospital owes creditors $34.6 million in unpaid bills, and is hoping through the bankruptcy to pay out approximately $5 million of those claims, according to the report. Scarinci’s law firm, Scarinci & Hollenbeck, is among the creditors.
Alleged bank robber arrested
Hoboken police arrested Angelo Viola, 25, of Jersey City, on Thursday after he allegedly tried to rob a bank on the 100 block of River Street, according to police.
Police received a phone call on Sept. 15 at approximately 8:20 a.m. saying an armed robbery had just occurred, according to a police report.
A man allegedly passed a note to the teller that read, “I have a gun no one needs to get killed give me money,” according to police.
A witness told police that the perpetrator allegedly fled south toward the PATH station, police said.
Police found a man that matched the description allegedly “counting a large amount of money” in the back seat of a taxi near the PATH train, according to police. The officer, thinking the man was armed, drew his weapon and ordered the man not to move.
Police say Viola complied, and did not have a weapon. He allegedly had $1,722. Viola was positively identified by a witness, according to police.
The cab driver told police that when Viola went into the taxi he told the driver to take him to any hotel on Tonnelle Avenue in Jersey City, according to a police report.
Viola was charged with robbery and terroristic threats, according to the police report.
Former Hoboken mayor leaves federal prison after less than 12 months
Former Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano left a federal prison in Lewisburg, Pa. for a new location on Wednesday morning, but is still in custody, according to published reports.
Cammarano was arrested as part of Operation Bid Rig in 2009, and subsequently pleaded guilty to one count of “conspiracy to obstruct commerce by extortion under the color of right.” His arrest came a mere three weeks after taking office.
He was arrested for taking $25,000 from an FBI informant posing as a real estate developer in exchange for future help with development projects. He was ultimately replaced by present Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who was at the time the City Council president.
Cammarano was sentenced to 24 months in prison and reported to Lewisburg in October 2010.
His sentence was recently reduced, and he is scheduled to be released in March 2012, according to the Bureau of Prisons website.
A call to Joseph Hayden, Cammarano’s attorney, was not returned.
Hoboken Family Alliance to hold sports program for special needs kids
The Hoboken Family Alliance will sponsor a six-week sports program for young children with special needs (from 2 ½ to 7-years old) starting on Oct. 1.
The program will be held on Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22, 23, 29, and Nov. 5, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the St. Francis Community Center (310 Jefferson St.).
The cost is $10 for the program. Call (201) 795-5404 or email Theresa Howard at email@example.com for a registration form.
The Young Athlete Program is a sports fundamentals training program designed to help children prepare for competition in the Special Olympics. Each session will target a particular skill including throwing, running, kicking, balance, jumping. Classes will include soccer and a strengthening yoga session, according to a release.
Former Assemblyman Garcia arrested
Rudy Garcia, the former assemblyman from the 33rd District and former mayor of Union City, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence on Thursday at approximately 10:50 p.m. in Hoboken, the Hoboken Police Department Detective Bureau confirmed on Friday afternoon.
Garcia was arrested on the 50 block of Paterson Avenue in Hoboken, police said.
No other details were available from the Hoboken Police Department.
Garcia was the mayor of Union City from 1998 to 2000, and served as the Assemblyman representing parts of Hudson County, including Hoboken, from 1993-2000. Garcia had also served as the attorney for Hoboken's Housing Authority for a few years.
In Union City, current Mayor Brian Stack attempted a recall of Garcia based on a tax increase in Union City, and Garcia ultimately resigned his post in 2000 before Stack took office.