MUÑOZ BILL TO HELP PEOPLE WITH ADDICTIONS FIND TREATMENT FACILITIES WINS ASSEMBLY APPROVAL

The General Assembly approved legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors on Thursday to assist people with drug and alcohol addictions who are seeking help at residential treatment centers.

The bill, A-3955, requires the Department of Human Services (DHS) to maintain a database that can be accessed by the public on the availability of open beds in residential treatment facilities that receive state or county funding.

“With prescription drug abuse a major problem in our state, thousands of adult and adolescents are having a difficult time finding a facility with an available bed. Many have to wait three weeks or longer, which is much too long for someone with a drug or alcohol problem,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “The process can be complicated, because of a lack of a centralized information source. A database will help streamline the process, saving people time and unnecessary frustration.”

A 2013 report by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimated that of 179,000 people in New Jersey who abuse or were dependent on illicit drugs, only a quarter received treatment.

Under the bill, treatment facilities will be required to submit at least once a day, information on the number of open beds that are available for treatment. The database will include, by county, the address and telephone number of the facility; the type of services provided; the licensed bed capacity, and the number of open beds that are available.

ASSEMBLY APPROVES MUÑOZ ALS AWARENESS RESOLUTION

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,” received General Assembly approval on Thursday. ALS 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, people who are diagnosed today and their families need to know that recent advancements in research and improved medical care allows many patients to live longer, more productive lives.

“Many may recall the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge which helped bring an enormous amount of attention to this debilitating disease,” she continued. “However, the novelty of the campaign has faded. That’s why we need to make sure we continue our efforts to educate the public about ALS.”

Muñoz’s resolution, AJR-67, 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.

ASSEMBLY ADVANCES MUÑOZ COST SAVING GENERIC BIOLOGICAL MED BILL

Cost-saving legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors that will give more patients access to biological medications by allowing pharmacists to substitute generic (biosimilar) forms of the drugs was advanced Thursday by the General Assembly.

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.

“Many patients with very serious diseases and painful conditions cannot afford biological medications because they are very expensive,” 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,” she continued. “This bill enhances the safety and effectiveness of biologics while providing more treatment options to patients.”

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 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.

The Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee approved the measure last week.

MUÑOZ COST SAVING BIOLOGIC MED BILL CLEARS COMMITTEE

Cost saving legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors that will allow pharmacists to substitute biosimilar (generic) forms of biological medications won approval today from the Assembly Health and Senior Services 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.

“Biologics are used to treat very serious diseases and painful conditions, but for many patients they are unaffordable.” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “Generic versions can significantly reduce costs, giving more patients access to these vital medications.”

“Since these products are more complex than chemical drugs you never know what kind of a reaction a patient may have. That’s why communication between pharmacists and physicians is so important,” she continued. “This bill enhances the safety and effectiveness of biologics while providing more treatment options to patients.”

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.

GOV. SIGNS MUÑOZ BILL ALLOWING APNS TO DETERMINE CAUSE OF DEATH

Legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors to allow an attending advanced nurse practitioner (APN) to determine their patients’ cause of death was signed into law today by Gov. Christie.

“As the patient’s primary treating health professional, the APN is often with the patient at time of death which is a very emotional time for family members,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “APNs are trained professionals who are licensed to treat, order tests, make referrals to surgeons, diagnose and manage long-term illnesses. It’s not only appropriate, it’s common sense to allow the attending APN to make such a call. This new law will help families move forward.”

The bill, A-1319/S-1152, allows an APN to determine the cause of death and execute the death certification of a patient when the nurse is the patient’s primary caregiver and the collaborating physician is not available.

MUÑOZ ON STUDY SHOWING NO LINK BETWEEN VACCINES AND AUTISM: VACCINATIONS ARE EFFECTIVE AND NECESSARY

Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset, issued the following statement in response to a study released Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) which found no link between autism and childhood vaccines, including those with an older sibling who has autism:

“With autism rates soaring in the U.S. and in New Jersey, and its cause yet undetermined, I understand that parents are concerned. Vaccinations, however, are effective and have a proven history of preventing serious childhood diseases. I come from a generation that saw the consequences of many of these diseases, including measles, rubella and polio. Vaccines have saved countless lives.

“Unfortunately, there’s been a lot of misinformation linking vaccines with autism. Hopefully, this latest study, in conjunction with the other scientific research, will allay any fears. Too many children today are not being vaccinated. As a result, we’re seeing a resurgence of some of these diseases, such as the measles outbreak earlier this year. It’s a very dangerous road to travel.”

Muñoz is a clinical nurse specialist.

The study, which involved more than 95,000 children, found no overall link between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the mumps-measles-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

APRIL 15TH A REMINDER THAT NOW IS THE TIME FOR CHANGE IN TRENTON

“We’re Number One!”  This is usually a joyous cheer, reflecting accomplishments in our towns and schools, at the academic, athletic and social levels.  However, this time of year, we somberly reflect on being number one- in taking money out of your wallet. This past October, Business Insider rated New Jersey as having one of the most unfriendly tax codes in the country, with property, sales and income taxes  all near the top of their respective lists of the most onerous burdens in the nation.  The Tax Foundation notes “New York and New Jersey are in a virtual tie for last place” in State Business Tax Climate, which is clearly not a statement we would like to hear as residents of the Garden State.

The high property, sales and income taxes are just the beginning.  Perhaps the Beatles had New Jersey in mind when they wrote “Taxman”:  “If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street/If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.”  Realty transfer taxes, inheritance and estate taxes, a “millionaire’s tax” on those who don’t even earn half a million dollars per year, a “jock tax” on athletes who play for out-of-state professional teams and all team employees, and a “telecommuting tax” on out-of-state companies employing New Jersey residents who work from home.  You name it, the Democrats in Trenton are either taxing it, or they are proposing a tax on it, as a remedy to the fiscal crisis that we face after more than a decade of their control of the Legislature.  The citizens of New Jersey are suffering under the weight of this tax burden, as exemplified by the number of people relocating and retiring out of state, including nearly one quarter of those receiving a public pension who leave the state because their taxes are too high.

Despite all of this gloomy news about our taxes, there is hope in the work being done by Republicans in the Legislature and Governor Christie.  The two-percent cap on property tax levies has greatly stemmed the rate of increase, which was greater than seven percent under our previous governor.  Attempts by the Democratic legislature last spring to undo much of the interest arbitration legislation by nullifying the two-percent cap on interest arbitration awards for police and fire departments were rebuked by Governor Christie and Assembly and Senate Republicans, and later replaced by an agreement to renew the cap.  Republicans have introduced multiple versions of bills to eliminate the aforementioned “Taxman” taxes.  On the estate tax issue, I sponsor four different bills seeking to eliminate, phase out and/or increase the filing threshold.  We must continue to advocate for this legislation, as Democratic leadership seems uninterested in advancing these bills.

April 15th is not a date any taxpayer in New Jersey can look forward to, but November 3rd certainly is.  We have the opportunity to have our voices heard concerning how much of our hard-earned income is sent to Trenton and not back to us.  When you enter the voting booth in November, remember the feeling of frustration and your lighter wallet, and consider which candidates are working to fix these issues, and who is satisfied with the status quo.  It is time for new leadership in the Assembly to work on these tax issues.

 

MUÑOZ SELECTED TO RECEIVE MILLICENT FENWICK AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PUBLIC SERVICE

The Somerset County Federation of Republican Women (SCFRW) has selected Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz as the recipient of its 23nd Annual Millicent Fenwick Award for Outstanding Public Service.

The prestigious award is presented each year to an individual who, like Fenwick, epitomizes distinguished public service, and serves as a role model for women.

“Millicent’s life-long dedication to public service is inspirational. She never compromised her principles and always did what was in the best interests of her constituents. That’s what made her such an effective leader in both the New Jersey Legislature and Congress,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “I’m grateful to (Assembly Republican) Leader (Jon) Bramnick for nominating me and the Somerset County Federation of Republican Women for this recognition. The Federation has an outstanding record of supporting Republican women in our state and helping them make a difference in the communities they serve.

“It’s my honor to serve the people of New Jersey and, in particular, those in the 21st Legislative District,” continued Muñoz. “Improving the quality of life for our residents, by making our state safe and more affordable, is my top priority.”

Muñoz will receive the award at a dinner reception on May 20 at the Raritan Valley Country Club in Bridgewater for her staunch advocacy on issues affecting women, children and healthcare. She was the prime sponsor of the “Jessica Lunsford Act,” which increased criminal penalties on those who commit sex crimes against minors. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Christie last year. She also sponsors bills to battle the state’s heroin epidemic, assist victims of domestic violence, repeal the estate tax and eliminate costly unused sick leave payouts to public employees. Chief Justice Stewart Rabner recently named her to a study commission on domestic violence.

Fenwick was a former member of the Bernardsville Board of Education and the Bernardsville Borough Council. She served as a New Jersey assemblywoman and as director of Consumer Affairs. At age 64 in 1975, she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where she was one of only 16 Congresswomen out of 432 members, and she served four terms. President Reagan appointed her as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome.

MUÑOZ BILL CLARIFYING IMMUNIZATION EXEMPTIONS WINS COMMITTEE APPROVAL

Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy F. Muñoz which limits the exceptions from state-mandated immunizations was released by the Assembly Heath and Senior Services Committee today.

“Vaccinations are effective and have a proven history of preventing serious childhood diseases,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “Too many children aren’t being vaccinated, causing the return of some diseases such as the recent measles outbreak. Some parents may have a valid medical or religious reason for not vaccinating their child. This measure respects that decision while protecting the public.”

The bill, A-1931/S-1147, permits an exemption from immunizations in either of the following:

• a written statement to the school by a licensed physician with the reason why the vaccine is medically unnecessary; or
• a statement by the student or parent explaining that a vaccine conflicts with their religious practices.

PANEL ADVANCES MUÑOZ BILL TO HELP PEOPLE WITH ADDICTIONS

An Assembly panel today advanced legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors to assist people with drug and alcohol addictions who are seeking help at residential treatment centers.

The bill, A-3955, requires the Department of Human Services (DHS) to maintain a database that can be accessed by the public on the availability of open beds in residential treatment facilities that receive state or county funding. The Assembly Appropriations Committee today approved the measure.

“Even when someone with an alcohol or drug problem wants help, it can be tough to find,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “Thousands of adults and adolescents are being turned away from treatment facilities due to a lack of available space. The process can be complicated, because of a lack of a centralized information source. A database will help streamline the process, saving people time and unnecessary frustration.”

According to a November 2013 media report, at least 30,000 adults and 15,000 adolescents were turned away from treatment in 2009.

Under the bill, treatment facilities will be required to submit at least once a day, information on the number of open beds that are available for treatment. The database will include, by county, the address and telephone number of the facility; the type of services provided; the licensed bed capacity, and the number of open beds that are available.