Governor Murphy has cut $5 million and frozen $27.4 million in the state budget dedicated to Cooper University Health Care and Cooper Medical School of Rowan University. With the exception of the $5 million he line item vetoed on Sunday, the funding Governor Murphy has frozen this year was in last year’s state budget that he signed. What has changed?
Governor Murphy is freezing $15.4 million in funding used for cancer prevention and for life-saving treatment for patients suffering from cancer in southern New Jersey. Cooper uses this funding to support the growth of southern New Jersey’s only comprehensive regional cancer program. This cancer funding also supports the acquisition of life saving technology, comprehensive cancer education and outreach, and screening services for breast, cervical, colorectal and prostate cancers. Governors of both parties have proposed and supported this critical cancer funding that has allowed thousands of residents to stay in New Jersey to receive the highest level of advanced cancer care.
We note that the state budget has more than $30 million for cancer programs in northern New Jersey that Governor Murphy did not freeze. Governor Murphy’s actions today are more inexplicable given just over 100 days ago, his proposed budget included this exact same cancer funding for Cooper. What has changed?
Worse yet, Governor Murphy did not freeze a $15 million unrestricted grant to East Orange General Hospital. The hospital, currently owned by Los Angeles-based Prospect Medical Holdings, a for profit entity generating annual revenue of $3.2 billion and owned by the private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners L.P.
Nurses unions at other hospitals have attacked Prospect Medical Holdings for failing to make promised investments and understaffing. Additionally, a report issued by Moody’s analysts outlined Prospect’s “shareholder-friendly financial policies” which included, according to Moody’s spokesman Joe Mielenhausen, “a debt-funded dividend in the amount of $457 million to its ownership in 2018.” It is good to know New Jersey tax dollars will support California private equity millionaires at the expense of a not-for profit cancer center in our state.
Governor Murphy also targeted and has frozen $12 million of funding to Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, which was recently ranked as one of the top most competitive medical schools in the nation. The governor has not targeted any other medical school in northern New Jersey. In a January visit to Cooper, Governor Murphy said “there’s not better medical school in the state than Cooper,” which make his freeze of funding even more curious. Again, what has changed?
On Sunday, Governor Murphy as part of his line item veto also cut a $5 million grant to Cooper to support the Vulnerable Communities Access to Care program designed to improve access to healthcare by addressing poverty, health literacy, safety, and other social determinants of health, and integrate affordable prevention efforts with population-specific interventions.