Menendez Stands Up For NJ Women's Health Care and Against Extreme GOP Efforts to Block Access to Preventative Care

Menendez Stands Up For NJ Women's Health Care and Against Extreme GOP Efforts to Block Access to Preventative Care

Senate Votes Thursday on Blunt Amendment that Would Put Preventative Health Care Services at Risk for Nearly 630,000 NJ Women by Allowing Any Employer or Health Plan to Deny Women and Their Families Access to Care

*** CLICK HERE to see video of floor remarks ***

*** CLICK HERE to see full text of floor remarks ***

Washington - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) spoke out on the Senate floor today against an amendment sponsored by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) which would give limitless and unprecedented license to any employer or insurance plan to exclude any health service to any American for any reason, based on undefined religious or moral convictions. The amendment - which the Senate is expected to vote on tomorrow - would put not only vital preventive care services, such as access to contraception, mammograms and prenatal screenings at risk for nearly 630,000 women in New Jersey, but also potentially lifesaving services such as blood transfusions, vaccines and prescription medications.

"Women across this country have been heard loud and clear: Hands off our health care," said Menendez. "Medical decisions need to be left to a physician and their patient, and cannot be left up to the moral beliefs of an employer. To give employers and insurers the power to cherry pick which health care services they will provide based on how they personally feel about that service, or the circumstances leading to the need for those services, is unconscionable and we cannot let it happen."

According to the Department of Human Health and Services, an estimated 628,000 women in New Jersey stand to lose access to preventative care under the Blunt amendment. But, the amendment isn't just limited to women. In total, it is estimated that nearly 1.7 million New Jerseyans stand to benefit from at least one free, preventive screening, such as a colonoscopy screening for colon cancer, well-child visits, flu shots and more, from their insurers. If Senator Blunt's amendment is passed, that means nearly 1.7 million New Jerseyans could see their preventative health care screenings - or any other health care service - taken away at the whim of their employer. For New Jersey families, the stakes couldn't be higher:

  • 449,000 NJ Children (0-17): Coverage includes regular pediatrician visits, vision and hearing screening, developmental assessments, immunizations, and screening and counseling to address obesity and help children maintain a healthy weight.
  • 628,000 NJ Women (18-64): Coverage includes cancer screening such as pap smears for those ages 21 to 64, mammograms for those ages 50 to 64, and colonoscopy for those 50 to 64; recommended immunizations such as HPV vaccination for women ages 19 to 26, flu shots for all adults, and meningococcal and pneumococcal vaccinations for high-risk adults; healthy diet counseling and obesity screening; cholesterol and blood pressure screening; screening for sexually-transmitted infections and HIV; depression screening; and tobacco-use counseling. Starting in August 2012, additional preventive services specific to women, such as screening for gestational diabetes and contraception, will be covered by new health plans with no cost sharing.
  • 617,000 Men (18-64): Coverage includes recommended immunizations such as flu shots for all adults and meningococcal and pneumococcal vaccinations for high-risk adults; cancer screening including colonoscopy for adults 50 to 64; healthy diet counseling and obesity screening; cholesterol and blood pressure screening; screening for HIV; depression screening; and tobacco-use counseling.

(Above is a sample of the services now available without any cost-sharing. Note that this is not an exhaustive list of covered services and is only meant to highlight several examples.)

Under the Affordable Care Act many insurance plans are now required to provide free coverage for certain recommended preventive health services. The Blunt Amendment would allow any corporation or health plan to deny access to these services, for any reason. Data comes from the Department of Health and Human Services - http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2012/PreventiveServices/ib.shtml

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