Health Care

Nurses 4 Nancy Fundraiser

Assembly Republican Whip Nancy Muñoz met with nurses across D-21 and the State at Rockin’ Joe’s in Westfield on Saturday, August 5th!  Judith Schmidt, CEO NJSNA, Varsha Singh and Suzanne Drake, volunteers extraordinaire; and Mary Ellen Levine, NJSNA were all in attendance. Assemblywoman Muñoz was delighted to have a chance to meet many members of the most respected profession!

Nurses for Nancy Will Hold a Fundraiser for Assembly Minority Whip Nancy Muñoz

August 5th, 2017 from 9 AM to 11 AM

Rockin’ Joe Coffeehouse & Bistro

20 Prospect Street, Westfield, NJ 07090

Gov. signs Muñoz bills ensuring better delivery of healthcare

TRENTON, N.J. – Three bills sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy F. Muñoz improving healthcare for New Jersey residents have been signed by Gov. Chris Christie.

The first bill (S2058/A671) adds two nurse educators to the state Board of Nursing, which licenses and regulates the nursing profession. The nurses must be RNs, have a least five years’ nursing experience and have taught registered nurses.

“As the delivery of healthcare continues to change, the way nursing students are educated needs to evolve as well,” said Muñoz (R-Union). “We must constantly rethink teaching methods to better prepare today’s nursing students for the increasing complexity of health care demands. Giving nurse educators a voice on the board will help us provide students with a thorough and comprehensive nursing education.”

The second measure (S2331/A3962) creates a tuition reimbursement program for psychiatrists who work in underserved areas of the state.

“The lack of access to psychiatric care in New Jersey is an alarming problem that has been going on for years and is growing worse. There aren’t enough psychiatrists to meet the demand for their services and, for individuals fortunate to get an appointment, the wait times can be one to two months or longer. That isn’t acceptable,” Muñoz said. “This measure won’t solve the crisis, but it’s a good starting point. Providing tuition reimbursement will allow us to begin to create an environment where behavioral health care providers will want to practice in our state.

New Jersey provides tuition reimbursement programs for primary care physicians and dentists to promote access to primary care services in medically underserved areas. It also administers the nursing faculty loan redemption program that was established to address the current and projected critical shortage of nurse faculty.

The third bill (S1295/A3701) ensures more stringent regulation of licensed respiratory care professionals who perform a variety of therapies and diagnostic tests to aid physicians in determining proper treatment for cardio-respiratory conditions.

SENATE OK’S MUÑOZ RESOLUTION ESTABLISHING ALS AWARENESS DAY

A resolution sponsored by Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz to increase public awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is headed for the Governor’s desk after clearing the Senate today. ALS, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

“ALS takes a physical and emotional toll on those who suffer from the disease,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “While there still is no cure for ALS, we want people who are diagnosed today and their families to know research and improved medical care allows many patients to live longer, more productive lives.”

Muñoz’s resolution, AJR-67/SJR-51, designates the third Wednesday in May as ALS Awareness Day, and the month of May as ALS Awareness Month in New Jersey. The annual Walk to Defeat ALS, the ALS Association’s national signature event, will be held at various locations in the state during the month of May.

CONGRESSMAN LEONARD LANCE HOSTS ROUNDTABLE AT SUSAN G. KOMEN NORTH JERSEY TO ADDRESS URGENT CONVERNS OF THE BREAST CANCER SUPPORT COMMUNITY

Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ07) recently introduced two important measures that address urgent concerns of the breast cancer support community: H.R. 2540, the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act and H.R. 2739, the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act. And last Monday, at Susan G. Komen North Jersey’s headquarters in Summit, he brought members of the medical community, breast cancer survivors, advocates and supporters to the table to discuss the state of the fight against breast cancer, and his work in Washington to combat the disease.

“All of us are working out of love for mothers, daughters, sisters and wives,” Lance told attendees at the roundtable discussion. “We have championed many important ideas and collaborated on various policies to combat this disease. These two measures I have introduced in Congress will give patients more tools and resources in the fight. These types of policies are the bipartisan, practical solutions that can make a positive difference in the lives of many.”

H.R. 2540, the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act will require that patients be informed of the availability and coverage of breast reconstruction and prostheses. Since 1998, Federal law requires that insurance companies cover reconstructive surgery and prostheses, whether it is at the time of surgery, or long afterwards. But studies have shown that many women are unaware of their options. Says Lance, “This bill intends to put into place an education campaign to ensure that women coping with breast cancer, especially those of ethnic and minority status, are made more fully aware of their options, and as a result, gain more control over their health care decisions.”

Assemblywoman Nancy F. Muñoz (LD-21) spoke on her resolution in the State Assembly urging support for H.R. 2540, and similar legislation on the state level that mandated the goals of H.R. 2739. “Too many women suffering from breast cancer, particularly in minority communities, are inadequately advised of reconstructive options. I cannot understate the importance of the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act to women across New Jersey and the United States, and applaud Congressman Lance in his leadership on this issue.”

A letter sent to Congressman Lance from Dr. Judith Salerno, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Susan G. Komen just prior to the roundtable event, pledged the organization’s support of the bill and applauded Lance for his leadership. “While the decision to undergo breast reconstruction or use prostheses is a personal decision, all women should be made aware of their options and coverage,” said Salerno. “Unfortunately, studies have found that too few women are fully informed of their options—especially racial and ethnic minority groups. This legislation complements the work currently being done in communities across the country by Komen Affiliates ensuring that all women have access to high quality, affordable care.”

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, an organization deeply committed to educating women about the availability of procedures that can support their breast cancer recovery, was represented by Dr. Gregory Greco, who noted that the wounds of breast cancer are not just physical; they are emotional, psychological and spiritual. “More and more, healthcare providers and patient champions understand that repairing cancer’s non-physical damage is part of our job as members of the cancer team,” said Greco. “For many women, that sort of healing, the kind that comes when someone feels whole again, can only be fully recognized through the reconstructive process. The Breast Cancer Patient Education Act Coalition works to improve patient outcomes and quality of life.”

Patient advocate Dora Arias, Founder & Executive Director of Curémonos, which provides education, support and advocacy to medically-underserved women with breast cancer, remarked that breast cancer patients, regardless of their race or ethnicity, yearn to regain a ‘normal’ life after treatment. “The Breast Cancer Patient Education Act,” confirmed Arias, “will ensure that all women in this country are informed of their breast reconstruction options and can exercise their right to make informed decisions regarding their treatment.”

This month, Lance also introduced H.R. 2739, the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act, which would require health insurance plans that cover traditional chemotherapy to provide equally favorable coverage for orally-administered anti-cancer medications. This bill is a critical step towards improving access to anti-cancer drugs by requiring companies to cover patient-administered and physician-administered anti-cancer drugs at the same cost. Correcting this disparity in coverage will enable cancer patients to make healthcare decisions based on the best information and the best course of care available to them, rather than on cost and/or accessibility to treatment.

At the conclusion of the discussion, Lance reinforced his conviction that both these initiatives are bi-partisan in nature and address issues that potentially affect every member of Congress. He expressed his hope that “this is where the nation will come together” and that he will “work in Congress to bring these priorities and all priorities of the breast cancer community to action in Washington.”

MUÑOZ COST SAVING BILL ALLOWING GENERIC BIOLOGICAL MEDS CONTINUES TO ADVANCE

Legislation to reduce the price of expensive biological medications for people who need the drugs for treatment of serious diseases by allowing pharmacists to substitute generics today won General Assembly approval. The bill, A-2477/S-1705, sponsored by Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz, now goes to the governor for his consideration.

Biological drugs (biologics) are created from living cells (animal, yeast, plant) rather than through traditional chemistry, which produces chemical pills. They are used to treat cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, MS and other debilitating diseases. While a (chemical) generic medication is identical to a brand named drug, replication of an identical biologic by another manufacturer is nearly impossible.

“The cost of these drugs often places a financial burden on patients who rely on them to treat very serious diseases and painful conditions,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “Generic versions are just now becoming available which is great news because they can significantly reduce costs, giving more patients access to these vital medications.

“At the same time, we need to make sure pharmacists and physicians are communicating with each other since these products are more complex than chemical drugs and it’s not yet certain what kind of a reaction a patient may have from a generic version,” she continued. “This bill enhances the safety and effectiveness of biologics while providing more treatment options to patients.”

Muñoz said measure is needed to ensure that once the FDA has approved a biosimilar as “interchangeable” with a biologic, a law is in place to address the issue of substitution. Currently, the only biosimilar product approved by the FDA in the U.S. is Zarxio. Manufactured by Sandoz, it is the generic version of Neupogen, made by Amgen, Inc. It is used to treat patients with certain types of cancers and related illnesses, but has not yet been approved as an “interchangeable” product. “Interchangeable” means that pharmacists may substitute a biosimilar or generic for a biological drug.

Under the bill, a pharmacist who dispenses an interchangeable biosimilar is required to notify the prescribing physician of the substitution within five business days after dispensing the medications and provide the name and manufacturer of the product.

Muñoz noted that only Virginia, Indiana, North Dakota, Delaware, Florida, Utah, Oregon and Massachusetts have passed similar legislation. Should the measure become law and, as more biosimilars become available, New Jersey would be at the forefront of providing cost effective medications for patients with debilitating diseases. She added that both generic and brand manufacturers support the bill.

MUÑOZ BILL ELIMINATING PENALTY FOR MEDICAID APPLICANTS WHO MAKE SMALL GIFTS WINS ASSEMBLY PANEL APPROVAL

Residents applying for long-term care benefits under Medicaid who gift small amounts of their money to others in the five years before eligibility is determined will not be penalized for the transfers under legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors. The bill, A-3760, will allow residents to transfer up to $$500 per month during the five-year “look-back” period for determining Medicaid eligibility for long-term care services.

“Many people legitimately and routinely give financial gifts to family, friends, religious organizations and charities,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “No one can predict the future. You can’t possibly know what your financial or medical needs will be five years down the road. People should not be penalized for their generosity if the time comes that they require Medicaid to pay for long-term care.

“Current state law is unclear about gifting money to others,” she continued. “This measure will ensure residents are protected when applying for Medicaid assistance should the need arise.”

The measure, which was approved today by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee, clarifies current state Medicaid law. Since many people try to “hide” their assets by transferring them to another individual so they qualify for Medicaid long-term care benefits, federal and state Medicaid law requires a five-year look-back period from the date of a person’s application to determine whether an authorized transfer took place.

Federal law allows states to exclude certain transfers, such as “de minimis” or minor gifts, on the assumption that the person is not giving away the money in an attempt to qualify for future Medicaid benefits. An individual may be denied coverage for unauthorized asset transfers. New Jersey, however, does not have a clear standard regarding such transfers. Those decisions are currently made by county welfare agencies.

SENATE PANEL APPROVES MUÑOZ ALS AWARENESS LEGISLATION

A resolution sponsored by Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz to increase public awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” today was released by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.“ALS is a horrific disease which takes a physical and emotional toll on those afflicted and their family,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “Although there still is no cure, people who are diagnosed today and their families need to know that advancements in research and improved medical care allows many patients to live longer, more productive lives.

“Last summer’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge brought an enormous amount of attention to this debilitating disease,” she continued. “Our objective is to maintain the momentum that was generated and make sure we continue our efforts to educate the public about ALS.”

Muñoz’s resolution, AJR-67/SJR-51, designates the third Wednesday in May as ALS Awareness Day, and the month of May as ALS Awareness Month in New Jersey. The annual Walk to Defeat ALS, the ALS Association’s national signature event, will be held at various locations in the state during the month of May.

SENATE PANEL ADVANCES MUÑOZ COST SAVING BIOLOGIC MED BILL

Legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors to reduce the cost of medications that treat debilitating diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis (MS) by allowing pharmacists to substitute generic (biosimilar) forms of biological drugs was advanced today by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

Biological products (biologics) are medications created from living cells (animal, yeast, plant) rather than through traditional chemistry, which produces chemical pills. They are used to treat cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, MS and other debilitating diseases. While a (chemical) generic medication is identical to a brand named drug, replication of an identical biologic by another manufacturer is nearly impossible.

“Generic versions of these drugs which are used to treat potentially life-threatening diseases and painful conditions, can significantly reduce costs, giving more patients access to these vital medications,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “At the same time, since a pharmacist may substitute a similar form of the medication, it’s important that doctors are aware of such substitutions. This measure ensures the safety and effectiveness of biological drugs.”

Muñoz said the legislation, A-2477, is needed to ensure that once the FDA has approved a biosimilar as “interchangeable” with a biologic, a law is in place to address the issue of substitution. Currently, the only biosimilar product approved by the FDA in the U.S. is Zarxio. Manufactured by Sandoz, it is the generic version of Neupogen, made by Amgen, Inc. It is used to treat patients with certain types of cancers and related illnesses, but has not yet been approved as an “interchangeable” product. “Interchangeable” means that pharmacists may substitute a biosimilar for a biologic.

Under the bill, a pharmacist who dispenses an interchangeable biosimilar is required to notify the prescribing physician of the substitution within five business days after dispensing the medications and provide the name and manufacturer of the product.

Muñoz noted that only Virginia, Indiana, North Dakota, Delaware, Florida, Utah, Oregon and Massachusetts have passed similar legislation. Should the measure become law and, as more biosimilars become available, New Jersey would be at the forefront of providing cost effective medications for patients with debilitating diseases. She added that both generic and brand manufacturers support the bill.

MUÑOZ HOSTS KEAN UNIVERSITY ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Assemblywoman Nancy F. Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset, led a panel discussion today on domestic violence hosted by Kean University’s Center for History, Politics, & Policy. Muñoz organized the roundtable which included leading nursing organizations, practitioners and professors. The group discussed the education and role of nurses in dealing with domestic violence.“I am committed to addressing the issue of domestic violence and its far reaching effects on our society. I understand the unique and important position nurses occupy in our health system,” said Muñoz. “I want victims of domestic violence to know that they can openly discuss this issue with any nurse. The exchange of information and approaches used in counseling victims is a tremendous benefit for both nurses and those they treat.”

The roundtable included the following organizations: New Jersey League of Nursing; New Jersey State Nurses Association; Society of Psychiatric APN’s; New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault; New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women; New Jersey State School Nurses Association; Kean University School of Nursing; Rutgers University School of Nursing; Barnabas Health; and St. Joseph’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center.