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Weinberg Statement On Health Committee Hearing On Changes To Health Care Safety Net

Governor’s Proposals Would Put Most Vulnerable New Jerseyans in Jeopardy

TRENTON – State Senator Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, the chairwoman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, issued the following statement today regarding the Committee’s hearing on the impact of Governor Christie’s proposed Medicaid Comprehensive Waiver and other policy changes, which, if implemented, would devastate the health care safety net for New Jerseyans struggling to access care or living with disabilities:

“The Governor’s Medicaid proposals would reduce access to care for thousands of New Jerseyans earning as low as $5,316 a year, or the many New Jerseyans living with disabilities and ongoing medical issues who depend on subsidized care to survive. This isn’t a question of cost savings – this cuts to the very core of what our priorities should be as a civilized society.

“At the end of the day, I – and many of my colleagues in the Legislature – believe that health care is a fundamental right for people in this country, not a luxury item for those who can afford it. This goes beyond just making sure that hospital emergency rooms are available to provide care when a person’s symptoms are too great to ignore. We need to provide access to quality, preventive health care to keep people healthy and safe, and enjoying a quality of life they would otherwise be denied by relying on emergency room care for their health care needs.

“During the course of today’s hearing, some very serious questions were raised as to the timeline of events, particularly when it comes to the segment of our population on managed care. It’s obvious that we’re moving too quickly in some areas, not quickly enough in other areas, and when analysis has been conducted, it seems to have been ignored for expedient cost savings in the FY 2012 Budget.

“New Jersey should never be balancing its budget on the backs of the economically disadvantaged, the sick, the elderly and people living with disabilities. Governor Christie’s Medicaid proposals would cut out the main supports of our State’s health care safety net, and would put people at risk simply because they cannot afford health insurance. It’s time to stop putting our most vulnerable people in the crosshairs, and craft a balanced budget that holds harmless New Jerseyans who have nowhere else to turn for access to health care.”