Assemblywomen Say Access to Local Health Centers is Crucial With STDs on the Rise & the ACA Under Threat
Assembly Democratic Budget Committee members Elizabeth Maher Muoio and Eliana Pintor Marin raised concerns over the impact of the Christie administration’s repeated cuts in state funding for women’s health centers during Wednesday’s hearing on proposed FY 2018 funding for the Department of Health (DOH).
“We’ve heard a lot of testimony during our public budget hearings about increases in STDs since the Governor cut funding for women’s health centers in 2010, including the alarming fact that half of all sexually active people in New Jersey will get an STD by the age of 25.
“Ironically, DOH is conducting a public awareness campaign to encourage young people to get tested for STDs, but when you go to the DOH website for information on where to get tested, 27 of the sites they suggest are Planned Parenthood sites.
“Directing young people to use these facilities when the state refuses to provide any funding for them is enormously hypocritical. The bottom line is that these are state-recommended facilities but the Governor is unwilling to have the state help fund the critical services they provide.
“The impact of this misguided policy decision is now playing out across our state and the country, with the CDC Director noting that the increase in STDs nationwide is due in large part to cuts in state and federal funding to local health centers. It’s clear we need to rethink our priorities,” said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon).
“At least six women’s health clinics have closed since Gov. Christie began eliminating this funding seven years ago and others have been forced to scale back their hours. This has had a considerable impact on low-income women who rely on these clinics for routine health care and crucial preventive services.
“With access to health care increasingly coming under threat due to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, my concern in particular is for women seeking critical services like cancer screenings and routine gynecological services. Lack of access to these services ultimately means more people putting off treatment until they are forced to go to an emergency room when their condition worsens, which usually translates into poorer health outcomes and more expensive treatment.
“For low-income women, like many in my district, this can often be a death sentence. The richest nation in the world should not be consigning its citizens to this fate,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex).