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Vainieri Huttle, Riley, Lampitt, Stender Bill Now Heads to Governor’s Desk

The Assembly Democratic sponsors of a bill that would require New Jersey to apply for a federal Medicaid funding match to support women’s health care and family planning services applauded the Senate’s Monday passage of the measure, which now heads to the Governor’s desk.

“The federal government is actively encouraging states to apply for this supplemental funding, knowing how important it is to cash-strapped states and the women and families who depend on it,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “If this is truly an economic issue as the Governor maintains, then we should be taking advantage of every available federal reDests.”

The legislation (A3273) – sponsored by Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Celeste Riley, Pamela Lampitt and Linda Stender – directs the state to submit the necessary application to the federal government so that New Jersey’s Medicaid program can offer family planning services to individuals with incomes of up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, rather than only to individuals meeting the income cap of up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level under the current state plan. States exercising this option will receive $9 in federal reimbursement for every $1 they spend for family planning services.

“We simply can’t leave this money sitting on the table when family planning centers throughout the state are being forced to close or turn patients away,” said Riley (D-Salem/Cumberland/Gloucester).

The Assembly sponsors noted that the Medicaid match will help offset a portion of the $7.5 million in women’s health and family planning funding that the Governor vetoed earlier this year, funding that would have helped provide roughly 136,000 women and families with critical health services.

“This is one of the fundamental duties we were elected to perform – maximize the reDests available to provide basic essential services to the residents of this state,” said Lampitt (D-Camden). “This legislation reaffirms our commitment to being fiscally prudent, while maintaining our commitment to provide access to health care for women and families across New Jersey,”

The latest casualty of the Governor’s veto are the women and children served by the prenatal clinic in the former Barnert Hospital which announced last week that it will be closing its doors and reducing hours at all six clinics in Hudson, Essex and Passaic counties. To date, 21 employees have already been laid off.

“At the moment there is untapped federal funding that would ensure that the women being shoved out in the cold by the Governor still have access to some family planning services,” said Stender (D-Middlesex/ Somerset/Union). “Anyone who votes no to this measure must take responsibility for denying women access to these crucial services.”