Bryant-Gill Law Will Boost Community Health Care

TRENTON – A bill, sponsored by Senators Wayne R. Bryant and Nia H. Gill to boost the ability of locally-based health care centers to meet the needs of their communities was signed into law today by Acting Gov. Codey.

“The growing network of community health care centers serves the front lines of those in need,” said Senator Bryant, D-Camden. “By going into communities where they meet the needs of both the insured and uninsured, health care centers provide life-saving services to the underserved.”

Senator Gill said a stable source of funding for community health care centers is vital to the health care delivery system of providing services to young mothers, their infants and those suffering from HIV-AIDS.

“Community health care centers are beacons of hope by providing quality services to infants and their mothers while helping larger hospital facilities function better,” Senator Gill said.

Senator Bryant agreed, noting that the community health centers prevent emergency rooms from getting jammed up with patients by providing care locally and removing the need to go to a hospital.

The bill, S-2260, signed at the Henry J. Austin Health Center, would appropriate $35 million in existing health care funding to support services at 21 centers for primary health care that operate 67 sites statewide.

The funds are raised through an annual assessment on hospitals which are then deposited into the Health Care Subsidy Fund created in 1991. An estimated 320,000 patient visits will be served this year and next year the total will climb to an estimated 360,000, according to the Department of Health and Senior Services.

“New Jersey currently has over 1.3 million New Jerseyans with no health care insurance coverage,” said Senator Bryant. “By investing in centers for primary care, New Jersey will help reduce hospitalizations of the uninsured, cut down on chronic diseases and reduce the annual cost to the State of the uninsured which is close to $3 billion annually.”

Senator Gill said the primary care centers will now offer new services such as dental exams and mammography imaging.

“The benefits of early detection of health care problems are crucial to quality of life enhancements for those of all ages,” she said.