Lautenberg urges Christie to restore Women’s Health Funding & questions Medicaid waiver withdrawal

As the Governor still waits to either veto or sign legislation that would fund women’s health services, the voices calling for action continue to grow louder. Today, Senator Lautenberg sent a letter to the Governor urging restoration of funding:

Eliminating the $7.5 million in funding for these services and withdrawing the Medicaid waiver to provide family planning services with a 90 percent federal match would reduce access to critical public health services and tum away millions of dollars in federal funding.

As you know, New Jersey has traditionally supported family planning health centers with state funding. Last year, these centers provided critical health care services, including breast exams, pap smears and HIV and other STD tests to 126,903 women and 9,461 men. Eliminating $7.5 million in state funding for these critical reproductive and preventive health services threatens the health of individuals and their families who rely on this care.

The Senator continued and focused on the impact of the Medicare waiver for a federal match:

In addition to this budget cut, I understand that you have withdrawn the state’s application for a Medicaid waiver that would allow NJ to expand Medicaid coverage for family planning services for 70,000 New Jerseyans who do not qualify for Medicaid or NJ FamilyCare. If approved, the waiver would provide health screenings and contraceptive counseling and supplies to men and women between 18 and 49 with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). As you are aware, the federal government pays for 90 percent of the cost of family planning services provided under such waivers. Accordingly, a contribution or$1 million from the state towards family planning services would receive $9 million in federal matching funds. The legislation now before you would require New Jersey to access these critical federal funds. In the current fiscal climate where severe budget cuts to education, health and other key programs are being made, maximizing federal funding is both fiscally responsible and critical for the continued provision of these and other basic services.

So we’re giving up a 9 to 1 match for what? How will that help things? We’re already short money and people will still need care and services. If this was really about the money as the Governor is trying to say, this wouldn’t be the course of action they’d be taking because they’re costing much more than they will ever save.

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