Health care workers rally to protect funding

Nearly 2,000 health care workers braved Monday?s wet weather to rally against proposed budget cuts that would lead to hospital closures.

The state plans to cut roughly $300 million from health care programs, including $143 million for the uninsured. According to the New Jersey Hospital Association, if the cuts are approved, an estimated half dozen more hospitals would close in addition to the two already scheduled to close this year.

According to the NJHA, a hospital closure roughly results in 1,700 job losses.

In addition to hospitals and the uninsured, nursing homes are also expected to lose roughly $90 million in state and federal aid. Medical schools, adult day health services and cancer center grants are also in danger of being cut if lawmakers approve the 2009 budget.

Mary Ann Marra, a registered nurse, was lucky to find work after receiving word that her hospital in Newark would close in June. ?It?s very stressful,? she says. ?It?s stressful to worry about your own family and ability to provide for your own family, your healthcare benefits ? and worrying that you may not have a job because your hospital is closing.?

Governor Jon Corzine says he understands that hospitals are strapped for cash, but that the state needs to become more efficient during the touch economic times.

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