NJ union: Law favors Norcross' Cooper, bars sick from Philly

The New Jersey Education Association is fighting a legislative proposal backed by Sen. Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, that the union says would force public workers to patronize New Jersey hospitals instead of choosing Philadelphia or New York hospitals.

The union says Sweeney is trying to favor Camden's Cooper Medical Center, whose chairman is Democratic Party leader and Sweeney backer George Norcross, by cutting reimbursements to out-of-state hospitals.

That would hurt places like Penn, Temple and Jefferson which draw patients from the Garden State, while diverting patients to Cooper, which has borrowed heavily to fund ambitious expansion on Norcross's watch. That's part of a costly medical arms race that has boosted hospital employment across the region at the expense of employers, insurers, patients, taxpayers, and everyone else who pays for medical care.

The proposal is part of a 120-page pension reform bill that would refinance NJ's underfunded public pension system by limiting eligibility and boosting worker payments into the funds.

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