New Jersey hospitals spent $33.5 million less to treat the uninsured last year.
The report that shows the first decline in spending in at least five years is raising more questions than answers.
Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd tells The Record
newspaper many people were expecting either a continued increase or at least a leveling off. O'Dowd says the report likely will trigger conversations about the merits of national health care reform.
The state, which tracked five years of documented charity care, found a decrease of 3.2 percent from $1.02 billion in 2010 to $994 million last year. Overall, the amount grew from $912 million in 2007 to $994 million last year.
The figures don't reflect the number of patient visits, but rather the cost of care provided at Medicaid rates.