TRENTON – Sens. Loretta Weinberg, (D-37), Teaneck, and Joseph Vitale, (D-19), Middlesex, have introduced a bill to expand family planning services under Medicaid.
The bill, S3013, would appropriate $1 million to Medicaid and require the state to submit the necessary application to the federal government so that the program could offer those services to people earning up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level instead of only to those earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, as the state currently mandates.
The bill comes on the heels of Monday’s failed Senate attempt to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of language restricting the Medicaid waiver application.
According to the senators, the rule change sought by Christie would reduce income eligibility from 133 percent of the federal poverty level, to $29,726 a year for a family of four, to about 25 percent of the federal poverty level, or $5,588 a year for the same family.
In addition, they decry the overhaul Christie seeks, stating it would restrict services, increase co-pays, and deny health care to thousands of residents.
Vitale said support for this bill should be a no-brainer both because it meets critical health needs of women and because of its economic import: the $1 million in state money can leverage $9 million in federal money.
“It will help to fund programs throughout the state for all women, young and old, and provide access to services that are important to their well-being,’’ he said.
Vitale added that “Maybe men in leadership just don’t get it,’’ and said that if these programs were viewed as important to men rather than women they would have no trouble gaining the additional funding needed.
The bill was originally scheduled to be heard Thursday during a Senate Health committee hearing at the John Grieco Auditorium at the Bergen Academies, Hackensack, but Vitale said late this afternoon the hearing was postponed.
Also slated to be heard in committee that day was a bill introduced by Sens. Diane Allen, (R-7), Edgewater Park, and Jennifer Beck, (R-12), Red Bank, that would make a supplemental fiscal year 2012 appropriation of up to $6.3 million for women’s health services.