By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog
Trenton is, without question, one of the most dysfunctional places on earth. Few folks on either side of the aisle would disagree with me, Save Jerseyans. It’s not just a matter of agreeing (or disagreeing) on spending priorities. We can’t even agree WHETHER to pay our pre-existing bills, let alone how. So the Governor campaigns for president, the Republicans throw stones when they can and the Democrats, for the most part, fight among themselves and then steamroll the Republicans.
But if one of a charmed handful of super-bosses wants something? Well okay then! It’s like having a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. And the two, Democrat and Republican, become one.
S2980A/A4526 – signed into law by Governor Chris Christie on Monday evening – grants “hospitals which are designated Level 1 trauma centers the exclusive authority to provide advance life support services in the municipality in which the trauma center is located, and grants the trauma centers the right of first refusal to provide both advanced life support and basic life support services in the municipality.”
As with most things in the public arena, the substance of the legislative decision itself is less consequential than how we got here. I’m not a health care expert. I am an astute observer of political power. That’s why you’re here.
Since you’re a regular, you already know by now that there are only three such institutions in our entire state; one of them is Cooper University Hospital, base of operations for South Jersey’s political powerhouse George Norcross III (he’s chairman of the board). EMS, for those who don’t know, is a VERY lucrative business. Sponsor Nilsa Cruz-Perez (D-5) is a key member of the Machine; Republicans, however, didn’t put up a fight, and the bill passed both houses of the legislature at lightning speed by circumventing normal legislative and vetting procedures, including a floor debate.
Who sponsored it doesn’t matter, of course. They’re not real people like you and me. These are cogs; the Machine recently created a six-figure county job for another legislator, Angel Fuentes, presumably because his other job (at Cooper) would’ve conflicted him out of the vote.
Virtua Health System’s CEO, whose institution is Cooper’s major regional rival, recently compared the whole dang process to something you’d see in “Communist China.”
I don’t know what to tell him, Save Jerseyans? Other than start putting some money on the street to build up the beleaguered Southwest Jersey GOP? I’m shocked that he’s shocked. He knows the drill. Unless some other rich dudes step up to stop the reining moneyed juggernaut, nothing is going to change in this state anytime soon. Other than the EMS contracts and whatever else the Machine wants.