CAMDEN, NJ—U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross visited the CAMcare Gateway Health Center on Federal Street Monday afternoon to highlight the importance of access to affordable healthcare.
According to both Democratic officials, President Donald Trump’s impending U.S. Supreme Court Justice nominee is a threat health care rights for women, protections for patients with pre-existing conditions and the health care system — particularly the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
At 9 p.m., President Trump is expected to announce his nominee to replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, a decision Menendez called “momentus.”
“The president has made it very clear both as a candidate and as President of the United States that he will only appoint pro-life justices,” said Menendez at Monday’s press conference. “A vote for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee is a vote to criminalize abortion and take us back to an era in which a woman was not able to make her own healthcare decisions.”
Norcross addressed the potential affect repealing the Affordable Care Act would have New Jersey’s 1st Congressional District, saying 40,000 in across Camden, Burlington and Gloucester counties could lose their health insurance.
“What they can’t do by executive order, it’s going to do by replacing judges,” said Norcross of the current administration's attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The Gateway Health Center in Camden is one of CAMcare Health Corporations seven federally qualified health centers it operates, providing residents of Camden and Gloucester counties OB/GYN services, pediatrics, behavioral health services and internal medicine care. It serves both insured and uninsured patients.
“We try to meet the needs of our community, and we try to be good at it,” said CAMcare CEO Mark Roberts.
Last month, FQHCs received $45 million in federal grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including a little over $2 million for CAMcare. According to Roberts, a loss of that kind of funding would force FQHCs like CAMcare’s Gateway Center to cut back its services or close, “leading to a catastrophic loss of care to the patients that we serve.”
“Your zip code, and your wallet, shouldn't determine whether or not you have good quality healthcare,” said Norcross.
Menendez said that the Senate will make sure to do “the most vigorous vetting” of the President Trump’s nominee, including all published writings; decisions, if they served as a judge; and speeches.
“The stakes have never been higher,” said Menendez. "At the end of the day, if he [Trump] is committed to accepting only individuals from a list by organizations that clearly have a total opposition to women's reproductive health, I do not find it possible to support something like that."