Legislation Assembly Democrats Gordon M. Johnson, Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald, Bonnie Watson Coleman, L. Grace Spencer, Eliana Pintor Marin and Valerie Vainieri Huttle sponsored to expand Medicaid coverage for family planning services cleared an Assembly panel on Thursday.
The bill (A-2795) would apply to non-pregnant persons with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The legislation comes after Gov. Chris Christie has repeatedly left funding for family planning out of the state budget and vetoed Democratic efforts to restore the money.
"The well-being of New Jersey's residents depends upon their ability to make the best possible choices about their health," said Johnson (D-Bergen). "This bill gives low-income New Jerseyans the means to take control of their wellness."
"When it comes to promoting a healthier New Jersey, access to women's health care and family planning is indispensable," said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). "That is why we are taking the critical step in expanding Medicaid coverage for women's health and family planning today."
"Family planning goes beyond contraception," said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). "We're also talking about funding for routine gynecological exams that can save women's lives in New Jersey."
"We know that this bill represents an investment that will save our state money in the long run," said Spencer (D-Essex). "When we empower women - especially those struggling to make ends meet - to take charge of their health, we make good on our promise to stand up for the people of this state."
"This legislation represents the fundamental idea that all residents of New Jersey have a right to health and the freedom to make personal choices about their well-being - regardless of gender or income level," said Pintor Marin (D-Essex).
"This is an important step forward for women's health, and as we know, all progress on women's health is a great stride for the wellness of our state as a whole," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen).
The measure stems from an option available to states under the federal Affordable Care Act, which permits the expansion of Medicaid eligibility for family planning services.
The bill was released by the Assembly Women and Children Committee.