Menendez, Norcross Warn Trump SCOTUS Nom Could Undermine Women’s Access to Health Care, ACA Protections, and More During Visit to Camden Community Health Center

Menendez, Norcross Warn Trump SCOTUS Nom Could Undermine Women’s Access to Health Care, ACA Protections, and More During Visit to Camden Community Health Center

Menendez to the American people: If there was ever a time to raise your voices it is now

 
CAMDEN, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy, and Congressman Donald Norcross (N.J.-01), a member of the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions, today visited CAMcare’s Gateway Health Center where they vowed to continue fighting against the Trump Administration’s continued efforts to undermine women’s access to health care. With the recent announcement of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court, they warned that any of President Trump’s potential ultra-conservative replacements would pose a grave threat to critical health care rights for women, protections for patients with pre-existing conditions and our health care system.

During a question and answer session with reporters, Menendez spoke at length about the critical importance of this nomination, and why he believes that the president’s current short-list would all be a threat to women’s reproductive rights, voting rights, civil rights, the rights of working people, and much more.

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“As we celebrate the access to affordable, quality health care services provided through this community health center, we cannot ignore the grave threat to women’s reproductive rights, protections for pre-existing conditions and health care as we know it posed by any one of President Trump’s picks for the Supreme Court,” Sen. Menendez said.  “There is too much at stake to stand on the sidelines.  That threat is real and we must raise our voices.”

“Everyone ought to have access to quality health care. It’s that simple, and community health centers play an important role in ensuring there’s access for all,” said Congressman Norcross. “Now, with Justice Kennedy retiring, there is a new opportunity for extremists to rip healthcare away from millions of Americans and undermine women’s rights — and we cannot let that happen. We need to work together to improve and strengthen access to affordable healthcare.”

 

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Since his inauguration, President Trump has continuously made vicious attacks on health care in America. 

 

In the latest attempt to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Trump Justice Department (DOJ) has decided to attack attack the ACA in court, arguing that the ACA provision protecting those with pre-existing conditions should be ruled unconstitutional. If the Trump Administration is successful, millions of American will be denied health insurance coverage, and millions more will face unaffordable insurance premiums.

The administration and Congressional Republicans also triedto strip billions of dollars from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to pay for massive deficit created by the Trump Tax Plan that gave massive tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest Americans.  More than 230,000 New Jersey children from low-income and working families rely on the program. Sen. Menendez fought hard against those cuts and ultimately the Republican rescission package failed.

This wasn’t the first time Republicans endangered CHIP funding.  Last September, Republicans allowed the program’s funding to lapse.  In response, Sen. Menendez co-introduced the bipartisan KIDS Act to fund CHIP through 2022 and preserve the express lane option for enrollment, the childhood obesity demonstration project, and the pediatric quality measures.  The senator successfully fought to extend CHIP funding for a full ten years in the recently passed Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said would ultimately save taxpayers $6 billion over the decade. Initially, CHIP was only funded for six years in the temporary January spending deal.

 

In May, the Trump Administration announced plans to implement a domestic gag rule on Title X, the only federal grant program solely dedicated to family planning and related preventive services.   

 

Each year, roughly four million people rely on Title X-funded health centers for basic preventive health care, including cancer screenings, birth control, sexually transmitted infection screenings, pregnancy testing, and well-woman exams. In keeping with longstanding legal, ethical and medical standards of health care, Title X providers can offer patients medically accurate counseling on and referrals for all pregnancy options-including parenting, adoption, and abortion.

Reinstatement of the gag rule, which has never been fully implemented, would be President Trump's latest attempt to fulfill his pledge to "defund Planned Parenthood," whose health centers serve 40% of the patients who go to Title X for contraceptive care. If Planned Parenthood were eliminated as a Title X-funded provider, other Title X-funded health centers would have to expand their contraceptive caseloads by an average of 70%. The move would disproportionately impact communities of color, the uninsured, and low-income individuals, and could reverse progress made in critical areas. Title X has helped women avoid 822,000 unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in 387,000 unplanned births and 278,000 abortions. Title X also yields critical cost savings to the American healthcare system - every dollar invested in Title X saves more than seven dollars in Medicaid-related costs.

 

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Gateway Health Center is one of CAMcare Health Corporation’s seven sites) it operates, providing quality health care services to Camden and Gloucester Counties since 1978. CAMcare’s health centers offer OB/GYN services, pediatrics, behavioral health services and internal medicine care.  Last month, Sen. Menendez announced $45 million in federal grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to fund federally qualified health centers in New Jersey, including $2,064,418 for CAMcare Health Corporation.

 

“FQHCs are a critical part of New Jersey’s health care delivery system. In 2017, over 537,000 patients accessed health care services from FQHC’s in New Jersey alone. Whether insured or uninsured, patients know they can visit an FQHC like CAMcare and receive high quality, comprehensive and affordable primary care services without the fear of being turned away. A loss of funding for FQHCs would put many centers in a position where they would have to reduce services and close sites, leading to a catastrophic loss of care to the patients that we serve,” said Mark Roberts, CEO of CAMcare. “Our gratitude for the advocacy and support of Senator Menendez cannot be overstated.  We are so thankful for his tireless work in the fight for CAMcare and the 23 other FQHCs in New Jersey to receive the continued funding on which we depend.”

 

“FQHCs are unique because each of our Centers serve as a ‘one-stop shop’ for patients where they can receive an array of services such as vision, OBGYN, dental, behavioral health, and substance abuse services. By expanding access to integrated care, such as treatment for opioid addiction, we are saving lives every day. With the comprehensive package of services FQHCs provide, it is easy to understand why Federally Qualified Health Centers are so vital to our communities. Community Health Centers have opened their doors to everyone so they can receive the health care they need,” said Jillian Hudspeth, CEO of New Jersey Primary Care Association. “We thank Senator Menendez, Congressman Norcross, and all of our federal representatives who have helped keep the doors open by advocating for funding in Washington.”

 

“I commend Senator Menendez and Congressman Norcross for standing up for Federally Qualified Health Centers, especially in urban areas like Camden,” said Mayor Frank Moran. “It’s thanks to their efforts that Camden residents and millions of Americans have access to quality, affordable health care. Health care is simply nonnegotiable, as many of our residents do not have the financial means otherwise.  Without organizations like CAMcare, our families, women and children who depend on these essential services would be at risk.”

 

Despite delays this year by Republicans in Congress to fund the National Health Center Program—threatening the closure of community health centers across the state that provide quality, affordable health care to vulnerable communities—Sen. Menendez secured a two-year extension of the program at $7.8 billion in the budget deal and an additional $1.6 billion in the recent omnibus spending package that passed in March.

When federal funding for community health centers was put on the verge of lapsing by Congressional Republicans last September, Sen. Menendez held a roundtable discussion with leaders of some of New Jersey’s leading health centers to discuss and address their concerns regarding the Health Center funding cliff.  This roundtable led to the senator co-leading a letter signed by 70 Senators to leadership requesting immediate action to avoid the funding cliff. 

Sen. Menendez supported an amendment to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that provided FQHCs with $11 billion in mandatory funding over five years for new and existing programs and activities to expand access to primary care services.  He also authored a second provision in the ACA that requires private insurance plans on the exchange to fully reimburse FQHCs at no less than the same rate as Medicaid in order to ensure the economic vitality of community health centers and properly recognize them for the valuable role they play in the American health care system.

Sen. Menendez has twice been honored for his long time advocacy on behalf of FQHCs, having receiving the Champion for Community Health Centers Award in 2016, and the Distinguished Community Health Champion Award from the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) in 2012.

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