BY SALVATORE PIZZURO
The chair and vice-chair of a State Senate committee on health issues have expressed concerns about Governor Chris Christie’s policies and the impact that they will have on New Jersyans who are vulnerable and have specific needs. Tens of thousands of New Jerseyans are in danger of being without healthcare, if Christie’s plan for cutting Family Care and Medicaid expenditures is implemented. The Administration’s plan will be especially devastating for the poor and people of modest economic means.
State Senators Joe Vitale and Loretta Weinberg have been vocal about the consequences of Christie’s plan. Vitale has pointed out that the number of Medicaid eligible patients increases during difficult economic times. When the economy is strong, he indicated, less people seek Medicaid support. Weinberg has repeated her ongoing concerns that the Governor’s plan will leave thousands of women without health care.
Vitale (D – Middlesex) currently serves as the vice chair of the State Senate Committee on Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens. According to Senator Vitale:
“While I recognize that the Governor and the Legislature must make difficult decisions within the upcoming budget process, we must all remain fully aware that cuts in services and eligibility of these life-sustaining programs will have a devastating impact on the well-being of hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans.”
Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen) has expressed concern that the Governor’s proposals include cuts in funding for women’s health centers. "This is, I really believe, a war on women that is starting at the national level and has unfortunately seeped into the fabric of the state of New Jersey," said Weinberg.
The Christie Administration has proposed cutting programs for New Jersey’s most vulnerable citizens. He proposes to close the Vineland Developmental Center, which provides services for women without developmental disabilities, cut services for blind children, make massive cuts in Medicaid spending, and eliminate most medical health centers for women.
It has been suggested that these and other cuts proposed by the Governor will lead to increases in unemployment, which, in turn, will lead to less appropriated income taxes and less income for the State, forcing an ever spiraling fiscal crisis. It has also been suggested that the number of welfare cases will increase, costing the State more money than ever.
Senator Weinberg, who hosted a roundtable discussion with women’s health care providers, chairs the Committee on Heath, Human Services, and Citizens, maintains that the Christie Administration is representing a right-wing ideology that does not serve New Jersey’s citizens well.
As Senator Vitale has suggested: “Cutting these programs shifts the burden of the budget deficit onto people who have little or no ability to afford the cost of necessary medical care. Not only would this create a health care catastrophe, it will drive up costs for our already ailing hospital system and increase health care premiums for those already insured.”