Governor touts health care spending priorities, effectiveness of neighborhood centers

 

BURLINGTON CITY – The governor signed a proclamation for National Community Health Centers Week here, touting his administration’s efforts on health care.

At the Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers here, Gov. Chris Christie said these kinds of clinics are providing accessible, affordable, comprehensive health care on the front lines for those most vulnerable.

“This is health care for those who need it most and have the most difficult time accessing it,’’ he said with Sens. Diane Allen of Edgewater Park and Dawn Marie Addiego of Medford by his side.

He said that during a tour of this health care facility in a working class neighborhood of Burlington that he heard about the rise since 2002 of 100,000 patients  statewide who rely on Medicaid or are uninsured.

He said these clinics are the most efficient and effective providers of health care from a financial perspective as well.  He said the state is providing nearly $160 million for these kinds of centers.

“This is the place to spend our money most effectively in difficult times.’’

But to rebut the administration’s claims, the state Assembly Democrats renewed their criticisms that among other things Christie’s policies and budget vetoes have led to a loss of more than $15 million for family planning services over two fiscal years as well as $30 million in federal matching funds, $32 million plus a federal match in fiscal year 2012 for nursing homes, and the closing of six women’s health clinics, and the planned closures of two centers, Hagedorn Psychiatric and Vineland Developmental.

Allen’s proposal

Sen. Allen, who last month introduced then withdrew legislation that would have funded more than $6 million for women’s health care issues, said this morning that they will move forward with reintroducing the proposal.

“Our plan was to wait until there were surplus funds,’’ she said.  “The Senate president decided he wanted it (heard in committee) right away.’’

Allen said that was a political ploy and she did not want the bill to be dealt with in that manner.

She said she still intends to reintroduce her bill to “make sure every woman, every child, everybody gets the health care they need … within the financial constrictions we have in New Jersey.”

Burlington site

Linda Flake, president and CEO of the seven-site Family Medical Centers operation, said this Burlington City location sees 4,500 patients, or about 15,000 visits, annually.

She said they see anyone regardless of ability to pay.

Sens. Allen and Addiego said these centers offer comprehensive care, and often a patient will come in for one problem and a physician will detect another area needing treatment.

Governor touts health care spending priorities, effectiveness of neighborhood centers