NJ moves to expand contraception coverage for new moms
New Jersey will expand the availability of long-acting reversible contraception methods through its Medicare program, which covers more than 300,000 women.
NJ FamilyCare covers IUDs and under-the-skin hormonal implants already – but not immediately after a child is born, before a mother is discharged from the hospital. Gov. Phil Murphy said New Jersey is one of seven states that doesn’t currently allow that.
“Women who want to reduce their chances of rapid repeat pregnancies — which are shown to bring with them, by the way, increased risks — should have this option,” Murphy said. “And they should have it at perhaps the time when preventing another pregnancy is front of mind.”
The complications that become more likely include low birth weight and increased rate of premature delivery.
Triste Brooks, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Northern, Central and Southern New Jersey, said the change is welcome.
“Any time you can offer women contraception when they’re at a moment of need is important,” Brooks said.
Murphy announced that he had directed the Department of Health and Department of Human Services to make the change in a ceremony at the Trenton War Memorial where he signed two bills into law, his first as governor, expanding family planning services.
One expands Medicaid coverage for family planning services for people with incomes between 138 and 200 percent of the federal poverty threshold. The other appropriates $7.453 million in funding in the current budget for women’s health centers, which will be continued in the next budget.
After the funding was eliminated in 2010 by Gov. Chris Christie, who vetoed repeated efforts to restore it, six of 58 family planning health centers in New Jersey closed – in Bayonne, Browns Mills, Cherry Hill, Dover, Millville and Mount Holly. A few more closed more recently.
The restoration of the funds doesn’t mean those sites will reopen, though. Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, said it’s up to Planned Parenthood but that the losses of leases and staff make it more complicated than simply reopening those sites.
“Now we will see when the planning centers themselves decide which ones have the most need and where that money will fill in the current gaps,” Weinberg said.
Planned Parenthood leaders said the process for making those decisions is now underway but that changes could mean longer hours and additional services, and possibly new locations.
“People will start to see the impact immediately in terms of us being able to expand our hours again,” said Roslyn Rogers Collins, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan New Jersey, covering Essex, Hudson and Passaic counties. “We’ll be able to provide some of the services that we had to terminate and some of the programs that we lost.”
Rogers Collins said a health center that closed in 2014 might be reopened. That center was in Pompton Lakes.
Planned Parenthood said rates of sexually transmitted diseases rose 35 percent statewide since the funding reductions and that the number of breast and cervical cancer cases has risen.
None of the additional funding can be used to pay for abortion services. Critics of abortion rights oppose public funding for Planned Parenthood regardless because they say the money makes it possible for the organization to spend other money on services they oppose.