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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
|Poonam Alaigh, MD, MSHCPM, FACP|
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Good afternoon Chairwoman Weinberg and Distinguished members of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. Thank you for inviting me to appear before you today to discuss the Department’s budget for reproductive health services.
On behalf of Gov. Chris Christie and the Department, I also want to take this opportunity to thank the Legislature—especially the members of this committee—for your support of our state’s new budget.
As we all know,
Although we have been faced with tough and painful choices, we have remained committed to ensuring access to care for our residents. I would like to go over some of the ways we’ve been able to strengthen the health care safety net for our state’s most vulnerable despite fiscal challenges.
One of them is in the area of prescription assistance for our seniors. Governor Christie demonstrated his commitment to our seniors by not only finding funding alternatives to restore assistance to pre-fiscal year 2011 levels, but also to enhance the program by lowering co-payments for generic medications from $6 to $5.
In this morning's Daily Record, the AARP thanked Gov. Christie not only for maintaining but for also improving the nation's strongest state pharmaceutical program for low-income elderly and disabled.
In fact, the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) program is one of only 17 state discount drug programs for seniors in the entire country.
Although initially it looked as if services would have to be reduced to this population, funding was made available due to increases in rebates from drug manufacturers, greater use of generics, expanded eligibility in Medicare Part D’s Low Income Subsidy program and manufacturer discounts in Medicare part D “donut hole.”
Despite the great fiscal challenges we face, we've also made great strides in expanding home and community-based support for the state’s senior population. This budget includes $14 million for these programs, which provide a cost-effective alternative to nursing homes. This will enable our seniors to have more options so they can remain independent and live with dignity in their communities.
Governor Christie’s budget demonstrates that providing health care for the uninsured is a priority. The Governor has provided hospitals with increased funding to serve our most vulnerable residents, the uninsured.
Hospitals will receive a 10 percent or $60 million increase—totaling $665 million. This increase was achieved by modifying the cap on two pre-existing assessments in order to maximize federal matching dollars. This budget increases the reimbursement floor from 5 to 15 cents on the dollar. This makes the formula more fair for those hospitals that, in the past, received the most limited amount of reimbursement. This year’s budget maximizes federal matching dollars, creates a more equitable distribution of funds to hospitals, protects safety net hospitals and responsibly manages the financial risk to them by reducing the year-to-year funding changes.
In addition, the budget also includes $30 million for the health care stabilization program to assist facilities in maintaining access to care in their communities.
Federally Qualified Health Centers
We’ve also been able to preserve funding to our community health centers that provide essential care to the medically underserved. This year’s budget maintains $40 million in funding for our Federally Qualified Health Centers. In addition to these state funds, FQHCs also continue to receive approximately $33 million in federal funding through the Bureau of Primary Health Care to support safety net services.
Over the last five years, working together with the Legislature--
FQHCs provide a comprehensive array of preventive and primary care services such as chronic disease management and OB/GYN services including preconception and prenatal care, prescriptions for contraception, clinical breast exams, referrals for mammography, Pap smears and HIV and STD screenings.
We’ve been able to maintain key public health programs such as screening and detecting early cancers—especially for low-income minority and multicultural populations. More than $6 million was maintained in the state budget, coupled with nearly $3 million in federal funding for a total of $9 million to support cancer screenings services for breast, cervical, colorectal and prostate cancers. This funding will strengthen the
Reproductive Health Services
However, the enormity of the budget deficit forced us to make difficult and painful decisions. These were not decisions we wanted to make. Unfortunately, this is simply the fiscal reality we had to confront.
Although state funding has been reduced for reproductive health services, women will continue to have access to care through family planning agencies, primary care centers, such as the Federally Qualified Health Centers, hospital outpatient clinics, private physician offices and local health departments.
Nearly 95,000 women will still receive care through 40 family planning sites in
Additionally, there are 20 federally designated comprehensive primary care centers in
As I mentioned earlier, the state will continue to ensure that women have access to cancer screenings. As part of this year’s budget, we are investing more than $9 million in the
We are committed to using funding resources available to the Department strategically so we continue to provide access to comprehensive health care services for the women of
As a physician, a woman and a former board member of the Women’s Health and Counseling Center, I can tell you that we are doing everything we can to ensure these important preventive health services are provided to as many women as possible in various settings across our state.
I truly appreciate the committee’s passion on this issue and I want to thank you for this opportunity to testify before you. Thank you.
Department of Health
P. O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360