TRENTON – The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens’ Committee heard testimony today on a bill sponsored by Senator Barbara Buono that would dedicate state funds to the New Jersey Office on Women’s Health (NJOWH).
“The impact that the Office on Women’s Health has had and will have on the type of health care women receive in New Jersey is astounding,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “Far too often those in the medical community fail to address the natural differences between men and women when it comes to prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The NJOWH is in the position to promote research efforts that would identify the ways in which various illnesses and conditions affect men and women differently and develop proper treatments
Senator Buono’s bill, S-2589, would make a supplemental appropriate of $750,000 to the New Jersey Office on Women’s Health. NJOWH is part of the Department of Health and Human Services and was established in 2001 under the model of the federal Office on Women’s Health.
“It is common for women, especially immigrants and women of color, to receive less thorough evaluations, have their symptoms minimized or hear less satisfying explanations to their health care concerns. One example is that women are more likely to die of a heart attack because the symptoms for women are closer to indigestion rather than chest pains,” explained Senator Buono. “The Office on Women’s Health was created to bridge the gender gap in health care and the State needs to better support the office.”
Senator Buono also noted that the NJOWH has not received any state funding since its inception, relying solely on federal funds. Those funds are in jeopardy of being cut by the Bush Administration in the federal budget for FY06.
“Unfortunately, New Jersey has not been doing its part in making sure that the Office is getting the resources it needs. Whether through awareness campaigns, creating partnerships to increase public health care access or promoting research on women’s health care, the Office on Women’s Health provides a valuable service that benefits both women and men. It is an office that the State cannot afford to lose,” added Senator Buono.
The bill did not come up for a vote. Senator Buono noted that she was encouraged by the Committee’s positive comments during the hearing and expects it to come up for a vote at a future meeting of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizen’s Committee