TRENTON – In a letter sent yesterday to Dawn Zimmer, State Senator Loretta Weinberg urged the Hoboken Mayor to stand with a bipartisan group of elected officials in support of women’s health and family planning funds, and to ask her to help convince Governor Christie of the value of these programs to New Jerseyans in need.
“Despite the Governor’s recent remarks on New Jersey 101.5, access to women’s health is not about playing politics,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen, the chairwoman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “By defunding women’s health and family planning programs Statewide, he’s limiting access for real women in communities like Hoboken. I hope Mayor Zimmer and other elected officials who appear to have a good relationship with the Governor will stand with us in support of women’s health funds, and help convince the Governor to do the right thing and restore these funds.”
Governor Chris Christie cut $7.5 million in State funding for women’s health centers and family planning clinics in his FY 2010 Budget, and has refused to support multiple attempts to restore funds and direct the State to apply for federal matching funds to ensure women in need have access to basic health services. According to Senator Weinberg, the Governor has repeatedly said that his objection to women’s health funding was based on fiscal concerns, but a recent influx in income tax revenues, and revelations that budget lines Senator Weinberg identified last year for these programs were overfunded, make the Governor’s fiscal concerns a moot point.
The funds in question would be used to provide access to breast cancer screening, pap tests and gynecological exams, STD testing and treatment, HIV testing, pre- and post-natal care, and contraceptives, among other basic health services.
According to a systemwide analysis on the impact of the Governor’s cuts to women’s health care, access to health care would be reduced in Hudson County. As a result of the Governor’s cuts, Hoboken Family Planning centers estimate that they will be able to serve 700 fewer clients this year, and have been forced to lay off four employees, including two of the three education and outreach staff members. Additionally, the Bayonne Women’s Health Center, operated by the city’s health department, was forced to close down in April after losing 70 percent of its funding. The closure of the Bayonne Women’s Health Center would force 1,400 women to look elsewhere for care.
“Mayor Zimmer should recognize that the Governor’s cuts have an impact in her community,” said Senator Weinberg. “Despite the Governor’s claims to the contrary, the health care safety net cannot absorb the thousands of women being turned away at underfunded women’s health centers, and the end result is going to be ridiculously long waits for care at the remaining clinics and emergency rooms which cater to the uninsured or working poor. I hope Mayor Zimmer will consider taking a public stand in favor of restoring women’s health care funds, and work with elected officials on either side of the political divide to convince the Governor to undo the damaging cuts to women’s health and family planning programs in New Jersey.”
Click here to read a copy of Senator Weinberg’s letter to Mayor Zimmer on Women’s Health Funding.