After eight years of consecutive vetoes, Legislature votes yes to restore family planning funding
The Legislature began righting a longstanding wrong today with the passage of two key bills: one expanding the threshold to receive family planning services under Medicaid, and another appropriating $7.45 million toward family planning services.
Former Governor Chris Christie issued a line-item veto axing the $7.45 million funding from the budget every year of his governorship, with harmful consequences to women, men, children, and families across the state. He also eliminated the expanded Medicaid funding for families. The Assembly passed these two bills today, and the Senate approved them on Feb. 1.
“The passage of these bills signifies a milestone for New Jersey: women’s access to reproductive health care is recognized as an essential service, not trivialized as a political symbol,” said ACLU-NJ Policy Counsel Dianna Houenou. “This investment in family planning services is critical not only for women, but for the health of all New Jerseyans – it’s about access to preventive health care and getting sufficient care when women decide to have children. This is a proud moment, but even more, it’s a moment that will concretely make an impact on people’s health and save people’s lives.”
A1656 ensures that individuals with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level will receive Medicaid coverage for family planning services such as medical checkups, testing, cancer screening, and contraception.
A2134 reinstates a $7.45 million appropriation for family planning services that was eliminated by former Gov. Christie first in 2010, and subsequently in every year of his gubernatorial tenure. The elimination of this funding resulted in the shuttering of family planning service providers, as well as a reduction in the availability of those services.
“The time is long overdue to fund family planning services and to treat access to health care as the priority it is in New Jersey,” said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha. “Restoring funding for family health services will allow more residents of this state to get healthy and stay healthy. Women’s reproductive health care has been a political football in New Jersey for too long, to everyone’s detriment.”
“New Jersey’s investment in family planning services comes with enormous returns through the incalculable benefits to the health and well-being of people in our state. Early screenings for cancer and basic medical care can catch potentially deadly medical problems,” Sinha said.