SENATE BILLS TO FUND WOMEN’S HEALTH CARE ADVANCE

Senate Majority Leader Weinberg addresses the audience at the Women's Lobby Day Rally

 

Weinberg, Sweeney & Greenstein Bills Would Restore Funding For Family Planning Clinics, Leverage Federal Medicaid Funds For Women’s Health

TRENTON – The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today approved legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senate President Steve Sweeney that would restore state funds for family planning centers in the state in the current, FY2018 State Budget. The committee also approved a second bill, sponsored by Senator Weinberg and Senator Linda Greenstein, to extend Medicaid coverage of family planning services to more women by leveraging federal matching funds.

The first bill, S-120, would restore $7.45 million in funding cut by Governor Christie in 2010 for family planning clinics that provide a wide range of services for women. The second bill, S-105, would provide Medicaid coverage for family planning services to individuals with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. This expansion would entitle New Jersey to nine dollars in federal reimbursement for every additional dollar the State spends for family planning services provided through the Medicaid program.

“The loss of funding for family planning eight years ago had a devastating impact on access to care for women and families in New Jersey, with the closure of six family planning centers. We made it a priority to put this bill on the governor’s desk early in the legislative session so that we can begin the process of restoring access to services as soon as possible,” said Senator Weinberg. “All residents deserve access to family planning and preventive services, and I look forward to seeing these measures signed into law.”

“Women and families in New Jersey have suffered as a result of cuts to family planning funding under the previous administration. We have continuously fought for the restoration of funds, and added millions of dollars to the budget over the last eight years, because we believe access to preventive care, cancer screenings, STI testing and other services is critically important. With this legislation, we will finally see the funding restored so that health care facilities like Planned Parenthood are available and accessible to women in this state,” said Senate President Sweeney.

“Family planning services are vital to the health of New Jerseyans, and the state has left millions of dollars on the table in Washington because of the decision by the Christie Administration to veto our legislation,” said Senator Greenstein. “I’m glad we are finally turning the page and moving forward with funding these services and getting money from the federal government that is available to us and that we should have been receiving for years.”

In the FY 2011 budget the governor eliminated $7.5 million in grants for family planning services. Due to the cuts, Planned Parenthood was forced to close six women’s health clinics. Planned Parenthood Action Fund of NJ has reported that since funding for family planning services was cut from the budget in 2010, the number of cases of bacterial sexually transmitted diseases has increased 35 percent statewide. In half of New Jersey counties, the increase has been nearly 50 percent or above.

The grants would provide information and counseling on reproductive choices, physicals, cancer screenings, pregnancy testing, the diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, prenatal counseling and substance abuse programs, among other important health services that many women can’t afford or are otherwise unable to access.

Extending Medicaid eligibility to non-pregnant women with income up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level – the same threshold used for pregnant women – would provide increased access to family planning services and address substantial disparities and coverage gaps for New Jersey residents.

S-105 was approved by a vote of 6-1-1; S-120 was approved by a vote 7-0-1.