During the Assembly Health Committee hearing Monday, Assemblywomen Holly Schepisi and Nancy Munoz questioned Planned Parenthood’s proposed spending under a $7.5 million supplemental appropriation, which lasts through June 2018.
Schepisi asked for a number of the organization’s financial details, such as its annual budget, annual revenue and executive compensation, none of which Planned Parenthood’s political director Christine Sadovy could answer during the hearing.
“If it was that important, how could the head not be able to explain any of these items?” Schepisi asked Chairman Conaway, who interrupted her questions twice. “If it wasn’t just a political football, if it was that important to women’s health, how do we not have these answers?”
Democrats in the state Legislature are eager to restore the $7.5 million line item Gov. Chris Christie suspended in 2011. The group spent at least $22,000 to support Murphy and other candidates and more than $120,000 on advertising, phone banks, and other campaign related support, according to reports filed with the state’s Election Law Enforcement Commission.
“The cut that got made in New Jersey eight years ago is less than 0.45 percent of the total annual revenue of Planned Parenthood,” Schepisi said referencing the $1.4 billion revenue of the organization nationally. “We have a lot of phenomenal organizations in this state that approach us for funding. The amount of money that you guys want is more than every school that I represent gets for school funding every year.
“During the same period of time we had the ACA, we had Medicaid expansion, we increased $12 million for cancer screenings alone, $4.3 million to STD screenings,” Schepisi explained during the meeting.
Munoz, who voted to support the appropriation, advocated using the funding for organizations that aren’t supported by billions of dollars like Planned Parenthood, such as federally qualified health centers and other clinics.
“Why don’t we give this money to the New Jersey Coalition for Sexual Assault?” asked Munoz.
There are 279 walk-in clinics, 37 retail clinics, 187 urgent care clinics and 9 pediatric urgent care centers throughout the state. Each of these facilities perform women’s health services without public funding, just as Planned Parenthood has without state funding for the past eight years.
Munoz also suggested removing barriers to nursing practices that wouldn’t cost the state anything.
“If you really want to increase health care access to women and children we should allow all health care providers to practice to the full extent of their license,” said Munoz (R-Union). “The more people we have to provide health care the better the overall health of the U.S. population.”
Munoz was referring to the more than 5,000 advanced practice nurses across the state who could also provide women’s health services and are currently limited in their practice.
According to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund —the organization’s political arm — the group reached more than 4 million viewers through social media ads, emailed over 1 million supporters, and placed more than 4,800 calls to voters in state elections last year.
“We are not talking about a small local organization, we are talking about a billion dollar entity,” said Schepisi.