Assembly Democrats Eliana Pintor Marin and Vince Mazzeo on Thursday issued the following statement denouncing Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of legislation they sponsored to support funding for critical health care services for low- and middle-income women and their families:
“As a new mother, a legislator and a resident of New Jersey, I am disappointed – although not surprised – that funding for women’s health care has been cut from the budget once again,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). “Making health care more accessible and more affordable not only advances wellness in New Jersey but also encourages the preventive health services that ultimately reduce the overall burden on taxpayers. That some of the most vulnerable residents in this state will continue to suffer is nothing short of a shame.”
“The governor has departed entirely from what is best for New Jersey in an effort to pander to Republicans across the country,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “Numerous health care centers have closed across our state, which left thousands of women without access to essential life-saving services like mammograms, cervical cancer screenings and pre-natal care. Obstructing the road to better health for partisan reasons – particularly when that decision hurts low- and middle-income women most – simply is unfair.”
The legislators’ two-bill package would have expanded Medicaid coverage under federal law to help serve some of the state’s poorest women (A-1963, sponsored by Pintor Marin) and also restored the $7.5 million for women’s health centers the governor has routinely eliminated since taking office (A-3492, sponsored by Mazzeo).
Pintor Marin’s legislation would have exercised an option provided under the federal “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” which permits states to expand family planning services through a state plan amendment. Under federal law, the federal government would have paid 90 percent of the costs for these services.
Mazzeo noted that in 2009 the funding proposed in his bill helped provide more than 136,000 patients with life-saving services, including cancer screenings, birth control, prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, breast health services, Pap tests and other health screenings.
As a direct result of the governor’s cut, six out of 58 women’s health and family planning centers closed while other health centers had to cut back staff or hours. In 2013, New Jersey’s family planning providers saw at least 37,000 fewer patients compared with 2009 – a 27 percent drop in patients served.