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Senators Call On Governor To End “War On Women,” Expand HealthCare Access

Marking National Women’s Health Week in New Jersey, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senator Nia Gill today announced a new effort to expand women’s access to critical health care services in New Jersey.

WeinbergDuring a press conference attended by health care professionals and women’s health advocates, the Senators called on the Governor to end his assault on women’s health care. Senators Weinberg and Gill announced their intention to restore funding for family planning services in the FY2013 budget and to leverage millions of dollars in additional funding for these services through a generous 9-to-1 match offered by the federal government.

The Senators will sponsor two budget resolutions to restore critical funding for family planning services in the FY2013 budget; the funding source for the restoration is a salary increase and other benefits account averaging $49 million in unexpended balances over the past two years. The first resolution would provide $7.59 million in grants for family planning services – grants the governor eliminated in the FY2011 spending plan and failed to provide in the FY2012 budget and the proposed FY2013 budget. The second resolution will make available $1 million to provide family planning services under Medicaid, which will be matched by $9 million in federal Medicaid funding.

“Since Governor Christie took office, six family planning clinics have closed and more than a dozen facilities have reduced services, scaled back hours of operation or laid off staff. We must halt the continued shrinking of health care services for women in the state and reinvest in health clinics and family planning centers across New Jersey so that women can get the preventive care they need,” said Senator Gill, (D-Essex, Passaic).

The Senators sponsored pro-women’s health legislation, approved unanimously today by the Senate Commerce Committee, to expand access to critical breast screenings for thousands of women who are at high risk of getting breast cancer. The legislation would require health insurers to cover comprehensive ultrasound breast screenings for women in the event a mammogram demonstrates dense breast tissue – which can block detection of a tumor by a mammogram – or if a woman is believed to be at increased risk for breast cancer due to family history.

The bill would require mammogram reports to contain information on breast density, based on the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System established by the American College of Radiology. When applicable, the bill would require the mammography report to include a notice to the woman regarding the availability of supplementary screening tests for breast density, and that the report of the mammography results would be sent to her physician. New Jersey would become the fourth state in the nation to enact such a law, following Connecticut, Texas and Virginia.

“This legislation is an important women’s health measure that will vastly improve our ability to detect cancer early, and to treat it when the likelihood for a positive health outcome is at its best,” said Senator Weinberg. “It’s a commonsense policy from both a health and financial standpoint, as it will improve health care outcomes for women but also significantly reduce the cost of treatment for women diagnosed with cancer. These are the kinds of policies we will continue to fight for in order to provide New Jersey women with the best health care services possible.”

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