Speaker Coughlin: Assembly to Quickly Move to Restore Women’s Health Care

Bills Will Be Heard Monday by Assembly Health Panel
One Restores Funding to State Budget; Another Provides Medicaid Coverage

(TRENTON) – Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin on Wednesday announced an Assembly committee on Monday will advance legislation to restore women’s health care funding to the state budget and expand access to quality health care to women and their families.
Coughlin (D-Middlesex) has made improving access to quality health care for women and their families a top priority. The Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee will consider the legislation at 10 a.m. Monday, he said.
“These women’s health bills will be among the first we advance this year for a reason – the priorities we chose show our values and character,” Coughlin said. “The elimination of this funding led to the closing of centers that provide women’s health services and a reduction in the availability of such services – both unacceptable. Improving the health and wellbeing of women and their children is right and compassionate, but it’s also fiscally responsible. A healthier New Jersey helps make a more affordable New Jersey.”
Despite being funded in every state budget since 1970, Gov. Christie annually cut $7.5 million for women’s health care from the state budget. The services covered by the funding included OB/GYN services; physical examinations; cancer, diabetes and blood pressure screenings; and STD prevention and treatment. In 2009 this funding helped support life-saving services for over 136,000 patients.
During Christie’s tenure, Democrats made annual attempts to restore the funding, but Christie vetoed each effort. He also vetoed efforts to obtain federal matching funds for women’s health care.
The bills to be considered Monday would:
· Provide about $7.5 million for women’s health care services. (A-2134)
· Provide Medicaid coverage for women’s health care services to individuals with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. (A-1656)
“Now, more than ever, we should be standing up for working-class families in this state,” Coughlin said. “Ensuring women have access to quality health care means healthier families and less strain on our health care system, if we catch health problems early when they can be more successfully treated. This is the smart thing to do for so many reasons, and I’m thrilled that we’re finally able to steer New Jersey back in the right direction.”