MIDWEEK BRIEFS
Jan 26, 2012 | 1151 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A START – This past Saturday saw the year’s first snow accumulation, judged to be 3 or 4 inches in Hudson County. Someone made this attempt at a snowman in front of their Washington Street residence in Hoboken.
A START – This past Saturday saw the year’s first snow accumulation, judged to be 3 or 4 inches in Hudson County. Someone made this attempt at a snowman in front of their Washington Street residence in Hoboken.
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Jersey City Medical Center no longer in-network with Aetna

JERSEY CITY – Aetna health insurance members in Hudson County have recently received letters from the company informing them that Jersey City Medical Center has cut ties with Aetna. This limits the hospitals that Aetna members can use, as the company has sent similar letters to its members regarding Hoboken University Medical Center and Bayonne Medical Center, two other Hudson County hospitals. However, that was after those hospitals were sold to for-profit ownership, as the new owners are hoping to re-negotiate contracts with various insurers. Jersey City Medical Center was one of only two hospitals in the county that is still non-profit and accepts numerous insurance providers. The change further limits options for people in Hudson County who have Aetna insurance.

A Jersey City resident who contacted the Reporter said, “I am in a panic mode as my wife is [pregnant and] due in couple of months. This is a last minute change for both of us. The effective date is February 15, which is such a bad deal for Jersey City residents.”

The letter, dated Jan. 15, reads in part: “Jersey City Medical Center no longer participates with Aetna. We want to let you know that as of February 15, Jersey City Medical Center is no longer part of the Aetna network. However, we will continue to negotiate in good faith toward reaching an agreement.”

The letter to Aetna members continues: “What this means for you: Starting February 15, 2012, only members in plans that offer out-of-network coverage will continue to have access to his facility.”

The letter goes on to list other hospitals that are currently still accepting Aetna insurance: Christ Hospital in Jersey City and Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen.

The county’s other hospital, Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus, also is not listed among the facilities currently accepting Aetna insurance.

One hospital executive reached for comment regarding why so many facilities are dropping Aetna said, “The amount of reimbursement we received from Aetna has been considerably lower than every other insurance provider. We actually lose a considerable amount of money on every Aetna patient we see. We can’t continue at that pace.”

However, Mark Rabson, a spokesman for Jersey City Medical Center, said patients shouldn’t panic and he predicted the matter will be resolved soon.

“It is not the intention of Jersey City Medical Center to be an out-of-network facility,” said Rabson. “We are negotiating in good faith with Aetna to best serve the residents of Jersey City and Hudson County. We’re hopeful for a quick resolution with the company.” – E. Assata Wright

Hoboken St. Pat’s Parade controversy continues

HOBOKEN – With the Hoboken St. Patrick’s Parade Committee canceling the parade this March, the controversy continues over whether it should be held on a Saturday or a weekend night. The committee wanted to keep the parade on a Saturday. City Hall wanted to move it to Wednesday to cut down on the party atmosphere surrounding it.

Some young people and bars are encouraging people to come to town and party on the first Saturday of March whether there’s a parade or not. Meanwhile, City Hall says it will hold its own event to celebrate Irish heritage at another time.

This weekend, a letter appeared in the Hoboken Reporter that has stirred up some comments on both sides of the issue. To read the continuing debate, go to hudsonreporter.com.

Fulop to propose creation of Jersey City public safety director, combine police and fire director jobs

JERSEY CITY – Ward E Councilman Steven Fulop announced he will next month introduce an ordinance that will combine the city’s police director and fire director jobs into one “public safety director” position. The office of Police Director and Office of Fire Director would also be combined and streamlined under his proposal.

Fulop’s announcement comes a week after current Police Director Sam Jefferson announced that he will retire February.

According to a release from Fulop, the new public safety director position would not impact the Chief of Police or Fire Chief, whom each would maintain their respective responsibility for leadership of day-to-day operational aspects of the police and fire departments in the new organizational structure.

The newly created public safety director position would, however, combine two current positions - that of police director and fire director - into one. If approved by the full City Council, the public safety director would, according to Fulop, eliminate redundancy in management. Currently, the chief of each department is responsible for operational aspects of the department, while the directors’ offices are tasked with udgeting and communication to the mayor. Per Jersey City ordinance, the police and fire directors are political appointees selected by the mayor and approved by the council.

“We have a window of opportunity with Director Jefferson’s retirement to move past politics and put residents first,” Fulop said. “Combining the two positions will not only save money for taxpayers but it will streamline operations, it will improve communication between the fire and police department, it will eliminate layers of management and most importantly it will find synergies that can improve public safety.”

Fulop said he expects to introduce an ordinance to create the public safety director position at the council’s meeting of Feb. 8.

Business community members invited to Emergency Operations Plan meeting

The Hudson County Chamber of Commerce and the Hudson County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) are inviting members of the business community to discuss ways to strengthen preparedness, response, and recovery. A meeting will be held Friday, Jan. 27 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Culinary Conference Center at Hudson County Community College at 161 Newkirk St. in Jersey City.

The focus of the event is to gather leaders from both the public and private sectors to develop solutions and share concerns as the OEM updates the region’s Emergency Operations Plan. The session will begin with Charles McKenna, Director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness. It will also feature an overview of the Regional emergency Operations Plan by Jack Burns, Coordinator of the Hudson County OEM. There will also be an open discussion with attendees to air ideas for strengthening preparedness.

Admission is free. To RSVP, send your contact information and additional guest names to jgomez@hcnj.us.

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