Menendez Secures $4 Million To Help Patients Better Navigate Our Complex Health Care System

Menendez Secures $4 Million To Help Patients Better Navigate Our Complex Health Care System

Senator lauds inclusion of his Patient Navigator Program in final version of Labor-HHS appropriations bill

Washington - U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has successfully secured $4 million in initial funding for a program he established to guide patients through the health care system. The Patient Navigator, Outreach and Chronic Disease Prevention Program, which was signed into law in 2005, helps patients, including those in underserved communities, to overcome the barriers they face in getting early screening and appropriate follow-up treatment. Sen. Menendez was able to secure $4 million in funding in the conference negotiations to the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill. Now, the bill will go to President Bush who is threatening to veto the legislation.

"I find no better time than right now to get this program underway, especially in light of recent troubling reports that show New Jersey's declining national rank in availability of health care. We must begin to change our health care system to one that is prevention-based so that we can confront diseases early and so that health care costs are lower - this program will take a significant step in that direction," Sen. Menendez said.

Success of program:

The Patient Navigator program is based on successful models, including one developed by Dr. Harold Freeman in Harlem and one by Dr. Elmer Huerta at the Washington Hospital Center. In 2003, Sen. Menendez, who then served in the House, secured $100,000 for a Patient Navigator Pilot program at New Jersey's Jersey City Family Health Center. Within the first year, the program facilitated the screenings of 842 patients for cancer, and 140 with abnormal findings were enrolled in the Patient Navigator Program for follow-up.

Background on program:

Patient navigators are individuals who know the local community and can help patients navigate through the complicated health care system. They help with referrals and follow-up treatment and direct patients to programs and clinical trials that are available to help them get the treatment and care they need to fight cancer and other chronic diseases.

The patient navigator guides patients to health coverage that they may be eligible to receive. They also conduct ongoing outreach to health disparity communities to encourage people to get screenings and early detection services.

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