Assembly Health and Senior Services

The Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee is responsible for the oversight of health care policy. Its focus is legislation that works to prevent disease, promote well-being at all life stages and encourage informed choices that enrich the quality of life for residents and communities.
Democratic Research Aide:  Nicole A. Brown   
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Wimberly, Sumter, Jasey & Johnson Bill to Bring Healthier Food Options to Urban & Rural Communities Goes to Governor

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Benjie Wimberly, Shavonda Sumter and Mila Jasey to provide fresher and healthier food choices to residents in urban and rural communities where healthy food options are limited was approved 30-3 Thursday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval.

The bill was approved by the Assembly in April and now goes to the governor.
The measure (A-1877) would require the state Department of Health (DOH) to develop a "Healthy Corner Store Program" to increase the availability and sales of fresh produce and nutritious, healthy food by small food retailers in rural and urban low and moderate income areas.

"Many urban and rural communities lack affordable healthy food options," said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). "This program would provide funds for retailers to increase the availability and sales of fresh and nutritious food, including fresh produce and other healthy foods, at affordable prices to neighborhood residents in an effort to improve the health and wellness of community residents."

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Pintor Marin & Muoio Bill to Boost Aid to Newark & Trenton Hospitals that Serve Some of the Most Uninsured Advances

An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Eliana Pintor Marin and Elizabeth Maher Muoio to provide additional aid to hospitals in Newark and Trenton that provide high levels of uncompensated care to some of New Jersey's poorest communities.

Specifically, the bill (A-4003) would make supplemental appropriations to the FY 2017 Appropriation Act in the amount of $9,563,415 to the Department of Health for Grants-in-Aid to Newark Beth Israel Hospital and St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton to implement improved health outcomes and sustainable transformation of healthcare delivery.

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Assembly Panel Approves Eustace, Gusciora & Quijano Bill to Ensure Needle Exchange Continues in NJ

A legislative effort spearheaded by Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Reed Gusciora and Annette Quijano to ensure needle exchange programs continue statewide was approved by the Assembly budget panel on Thursday.

"Needle exchange programs have effectively reduced the sharing of needles and the spread of bloodborne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C," said Eustace (D-Bergen, Passaic). "The legislation makes permanent vital funding that will allow these critical programs to serve New Jersey's communities."

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Schaer, Vainieri Huttle, Coughlin & McKnight Bill to Create Real-Time System to Track Available Psych Beds Continues Advancing

An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Craig Coughlin and Angela McKnight to create a "real-time" system to track the number of psychiatric beds available statewide to treat mental health and substance use disorders.

"Last year we hosted a number of roundtable discussions and meetings on issues related to behavioral and mental health care and professionals in the field continuously raised the need for increased information sharing on bed availability across the state," said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic). "Therefore, this legislation is designed to help providers and emergency rooms to quickly place patients in need of behavioral health services for the appropriate treatment."

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Muoio & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Enhance Benefits Under Work First New Jersey Program Advances

Legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Elizabeth Maher Muoio and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to ensure that some of New Jersey's most vulnerable residents receive the assistance they need under the Work First New Jersey program was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.

The bill (A-3410) would repeal the section of the "Work First New Jersey Act" that currently prohibits a household from gaining additional cash assistance benefits as a result of the birth of a child. Such policies that prevent an increase in welfare benefits as a result of the birth of a child are commonly known as "family caps."

"If there was ever a situation that would precipitate the need for greater assistance under this program, it's the birth of a child and the enormous cost that comes along with it...," said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon).

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Vainieri Huttle, Lagana, Eustace & Caride Bill to Provide Better Oversight at Bergen Regional Medical Center Clears Committee

Legislation Prompted by Reports of Violence against Patients and Staff; Weak Oversight at New Jersey's Largest Hospital
An Assembly panel on Thursday released legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Joseph Lagana, Tim Eustace and Marlene Caride to allow Bergen County to create a hospital authority to ensure proper oversight and quality of care at Bergen Regional Medical Center, which has been besieged by allegations of violence against patients and staff.

The bill (A-3951) is in response to a media report that revealed hundreds of alleged assaults logged by Bergen County Police and a federal investigation prompted by attacks on eight workers at the Bergen Regional Medical Center in Paramus. The hospital, which provides long-term care, psychiatric and substance-abuse treatment and acute care, is owned by Bergen County but operated by a private for-profit company. The hospital is the largest hospital in the state with 1,000 beds.

"The incidents cited are deeply troubling and show a serious lapse in oversight," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Creating an entity solely dedicated to the management of the hospital will help ensure that staff can provide and patients can receive the care they need."

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Schaer Introduces Legislation to Help Ready New Jersey against the Zika Virus

With the first case of Zika virus hitting close to home, Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic) has introduced legislation to help New Jersey ready itself against the encroaching disease.

The bill (A-3969) would require the Department of Health (DOH) to develop a Zika Virus State Action Plan to reduce the impact of infection from the virus on residents of New Jersey.

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Coughlin, Vainieri Huttle, Danielsen & Wimberly Bill Ensuring Patients with Disabilities Can Physically Access Doctors' Offices Continues Advancing

Measure Would Require Certain Insurance Companies to Include Accessible Doctors for Patients with Physical Disabilities
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Craig Coughlin, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Joseph Danielsen ensuring that people with physical disabilities have access to doctors in their insurance network whose offices are physically accessible was released last week by a Senate panel.

"It's important that a critical area like healthcare is fully accessible," said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). "While many professional buildings are fully accessible these days, not all of them are. This will help provide another measure of independence for individuals with disabilities."

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