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Christie Seeks to Eliminate Program that Saved N.J. $150M in 2009

(TRENTON) — Assemblywoman Linda Stender on Wednesday expressed shock and dismay that Gov. Chris Christie’s budget plan calls for completely eliminating family planning services that have helped save New Jersey taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

“It’s inexcusable that Gov. Christie is apparently placing conservative ideology above women’s health care and is so willing to axe smart and effective programs that have saved New Jersey taxpayers millions of dollars,” Stender said. “New Jersey women and families are already struggling with health care during difficult economic times, but Gov. Chris Christie’s plan would make that situation even more difficult for the middle-class and poor.”

Under Christie’s budget plan that proposes tax increases on the working poor, middle-class and hospitals, grants to support clinical family planning and related services is eliminated to save $7.45 million.

“This will cost taxpayers much more than it will save,” Stender said. “It will also cost us invaluable federal dollars that can help New Jersey maximize health care for women and families so it fails to make sense any way you look at it.”

Stender (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset) said more than 136,000 patients were served by family planning services in New Jersey last year, helping prevent 40,000 pregnancies and 19,000 abortions and saving the state more than $150 million.

“These programs have been a sensible investment in New Jersey’s public health,” Stender said. “Not only do they help save money, but they frequently help poor and working families obtain health care services they otherwise wouldn’t obtain. That saves taxpayers money in the long run. Axing support for these programs is irresponsible.”

Family planning services involve contraception; routine gynecological exams; screening for high blood pressure, anemia and diabetes; breast and cervical cancer screening and education; screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections; HIV testing and counseling, pre-pregnancy counseling and education; pregnancy testing and confirmation and prenatal care.

“These are not radical, out-of-the-ordinary services, ” Stender said. “They are vital and important health care services that many women and families would not otherwise receive. If the governor has his way, the negative impact of his decision will reverberate in communities across this state and cost taxpayers dearly.”

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