New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited one of Union County's regional medical centers on Thursday, highlighting his decision to boost funding toward safety-net medical services for cash-strapped residents. Christie, touring Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth to see wards for cancer and cardiac patients, praised what he called "safety-net urban hospitals." He said he had restored $20 million in hospital funding in the budget he signed in June, expanded availability to send that money to all hospitals and provided an extra $30 million to train new doctors. After increasing a tax on hospitals in 2010 to provide state funds for treating uninsured patients, Christie faced concerns from hospital groups that the new system risked limiting health care access for poorer patients. "I've always felt that New Jersey's hospitals are one of its most vital assets, and the healthcare safety-net for our state's most vulnerable," he said. Aside from their $18 billion economic impact in New Jersey, Christie said hospitals offered life-saving services for residents during economic times. "This is the place of last resort they'll come to, the hospital, to be able to get healthcare when they need it."