Good afternoon Chairman Sarlo, Vice Chairwoman Cunningham, and distinguished members of the Senate Budget Committee,
My name is Kaitlyn Wojtowicz, and I serve as the Vice President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey. We advocate on behalf of the tens of thousands of individuals who receive health care and educational programming from the 20 Planned Parenthood health centers in our state.
The ongoing public health and economic crises have exacerbated the need for access to affordable and timely reproductive health care. Reproductive health services such as birth control, testing and treatment for emergent issues like sexually transmitted infections and urinary tract infections, and cancer screenings are critical to ensuring that New Jerseyans lead healthy lives. Reproductive health care services are essential to the health and safety of our communities, and ensuring that people across New Jersey have access to affordable and timely health care is more important than ever.
We thank Governor Murphy for including level-funding for family planning services in his FY23 proposed budget and we urge the legislature to do the same.
Over 89 percent of the New Jerseyans that receive health care at a Planned Parenthood health center each year have an annual income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level — roughly $39,750 for a family of four. The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply impacted New Jerseyans, as individuals have lost their jobs, lost health insurance coverage, or become the sole breadwinners for their families. And after two years of living with COVID-19 the rising costs of housing, energy, and day to day expenses have made it difficult for many families to make ends meet. Maintaining level funding for family planning means that fewer families have to make the hard decision between putting food on the table and receiving life-saving preventative health care.
In addition to these economic and public health crises, because of centuries of systemic racism and inequities, Black, Latino, and Indigenous people continue to face unacceptable barriers to the health care they need. This health crisis is impacting communities of color and families in the undocumented community at an overwhelming rate, exacerbating existing barriers to health care. Now is the time to invest in health care and work to ensure equity in access and care.
If the human and health care impact isn’t enough reason to invest in family planning programs, there is also an economic imperative. For every dollar invested in family planning, the government saves up to $7 down the line. That’s because patients are not only able to access care when they need it most, but they are also able to seek preventative care and mitigate potential adverse health outcomes, such as averted unintended pregnancies and prevented sexually transmitted infections, for which treatment could be more expensive.
Family planning funding, which helps support nearly 50 providers across the state, including Planned Parenthood, FQHCs, independent family planning providers, and county health departments, is crucial to ensure the health and well-being of the people of New Jersey. Our state’s investment in high-quality, affordable family planning services will help ensure that everyone can get the care they need and deserve.
Additionally, we are pleased that the Reproductive Health Care Fund has been included in the Governor’s proposed budget. The Reproductive Health Care Fund supports the reproductive health of people who are undocumented by covering birth control and prenatal servies. We urge the legislature to also ensure that abortion coverage is included within the reproductive health care fund. Everyone should be able to make their own personal health care decisions, and every New Jerseyan deserves to have access to all of their reproductive health care options.
Right now, the path to health care for some immigrants is full of obstacles. For others, there is no path at all. In New Jersey, thousands of people who are immigrants are banned from enrolling in Medicaid health insurance coverage for at least five years. Five years is a lifetime for a person with an unintended pregnancy or someone who needs birth control or prenatal care.
In a 2020 report released by Make the Road NJ, a staggering 75 percent of all survey respondents — and 85 percent of undocumented individuals — report having no health insurance.
When we ensure that everyone, regardless of immigration status, gets affordable and high quality health care, the health and well-being of our community - and our state - improves.
All individuals, regardless of their immigration status,should be able to get coverage for the full range of health care, including birth control, abortion, and childbirth whenthey need it.
In closing, we ask that you include level funding for family planning services in the FY23 budget, and ensure that the Reproductive Health Care Fund covers the full range of reproductive health services, including abortion.
Vice President of Public Affairs
Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey