Menendez: Patients & Veterans Need Guidance Navigating Health Systems

Menendez: Patients & Veterans Need Guidance Navigating Health Systems

US Senator toured Lourdes Hospital, Heard from Patient who has been assisted by Patient Navigator

Camden - Meeting with a patient who benefited from a patient navigator program at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center today, United States Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) called for an expansion of the program, which was created by his Patient Navigator and Chronic Disease prevention Act of 2005, signed into law by President Bush in 2005.

"We know that addressing health disparities is a complex challenge, but establishing a network of patient navigators is one strategy we can use to help New Jerseyans get the support and care they need," Menendez said. "We have seen improved outcomes with patient navigator programs, such as the ones previously sponsored by Lourdes and the Jersey City Family Health Center. I look forward to multiplying their life-saving effects and improving access to care, health outcomes, and quality of life for communities throughout the state and across the country."

The Patient Navigator law ensures that navigators are available to help patients make their way through the health care system -- whether by translating technical medical terminology, explaining their insurance, making appointments for referral screenings and treatments, following up to make sure the patient keeps that appointment, or even accompanying a patient to a referral appointment. In July, critical funding of $5 million for the upcoming fiscal year was approved in committee as part of the Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education spending bill. The funding must be approved by the full Senate and conference committees later this year.

Earlier this month, Menendez introduced the Veterans Navigator Bill (S. 3770) to create a similar system for service members transitioning into the Veterans Administration health care system. The bill would provide $25 million in federal grants over the next five fiscal years to create a pilot program to address the myriad of problems service members face when they move between the Department of Defense and the VA health care systems. The bill, co-sponsored by US Senator Frank Lautenberg, has been referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.

Our veterans, returning home from serving their country, should not be prevented from accessing needed medical care because of a confusing and complicated system, said Menendez. A grateful nation honors the men and women of the armed forces, and ensuring they receive the assistance they need is the least we can do.

The only way to stay healthy is to see a doctor when you are healthy. Through programs such as the Patient Navigator and the future Veterans Navigator, I hope to ensure a healthier and brighter future for all New Jerseyans, concluded Menendez.