N.J. Democrats urge funding for women’s health clinics

    Some Democrats in the New Jersey Legislature are not giving up their effort to get state funding for women’s health centers.

    They failed last year in an attempt to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a bill to restore more than $7 million for the clinics, whose health services include family planning.

    Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono says some of those centers have closed. She said Wednesday she wonders where lower income women will go to get reproductive health care.

    “Only 10 percent of these women have private insurance and only 20 percent have Medicaid,” Buono said. “Many women with Medicaid have a difficult time right now finding private OB-GYNs who will take their Medicaid.”

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    Sen. Loretta Weinberg, who said there is money available in the state employee prescription drug program to fund the centers, asked acting Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd if she supports doing that.

    “The Department of Health and Senior Services has many worthy programs and, at this point, I think it’s premature for me to say how I would prioritize that,” O’Dowd said.

    “So is that a yes or a no?” Weinberg said.

    “To be determined,” answered O’Dowd.

    O’Dowd said there are alternatives for women who received care at five of the centers that have closed. At least one center remains in each county, she said, adding that those services are also available at federally qualified health centers and hospital-based clinics.

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