- Associated Press - Friday, May 20, 2016

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - A New Jersey appeals court declined Friday to rule on a constitutional challenge by eight hospitals to the state’s system for providing care to people who can’t afford to pay and recommended the hospitals file their claim in a lower court.

The hospitals argue that the requirement they provide the care with the help of what they say is inadequate state aid amounts to an unconstitutional taking of their property.

The eight are Englewood Medical Center, Hoboken University Medical Center, Capital Health Medical Center-Hopewell, JFK Medical Center, Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County, Palisades Medical Center and Capital Health System Regional Medical Center.

According to the court’s Friday opinion, the hospitals estimated losses from providing charity care of between roughly $1 million for Lourdes-Burlington to more than $16 million for Englewood for fiscal year 2015.

The Legislature appropriated a total of $650 million for charity care subsidies for fiscal year 2015, according to the filing.

The eight hospitals had filed appeals with the state Department of Health in 2014 on constitutional grounds. The department concluded it lacked jurisdiction and sent the case to the appellate division.

In its opinion, the appeals court wrote that, without a sufficient record of facts to review, it couldn’t decide the constitutional issue either. It recommended the hospitals file their claim in a trial court.

An attorney who argued the case for the hospitals didn’t return a message seeking comment Friday.

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