News

Singleton, Mukherji, Benson & Lampitt Bill to Require Health Insurance Providers to Cover the Use of 3-D Mammography for Breast Cancer Screening Heads to Governor

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Raj Mukherji, Dan Benson & Pamela Lampitt to require health insurers, SHBP and SEHBP to cover digital tomosynthesis for breast cancer screening received final legislative approval Monday and now heads to the governor.

Digital tomosynthesis, also sometimes called 3-D mammography, creates a three-dimensional picture of the breast using x-rays. Several low-dose images from different angles around the breast are used to create the final 3-D picture. Conventional mammography produces one image of overlapping tissue, while tomosynthesis provides multiple pictures of breast tissue as the scanner moves in an arc. The difference between the images produced by tomosynthesis and conventional mammography has been described as being akin to a three dimensional ball versus a flat circle. 

"If there is a more precise way to screen and diagnose breast cancer, then we should begin making it available to all women through their health benefits," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "Breast cancer can be curable if detected early. Women and their families should be allowed access to the medical resources necessary to diagnose and treat breast cancer."

Coughlin, Benson & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Help Fight NJ's Opioid Crisis Heads to Governor's Desk

 A measure sponsored by Assembly Speaker-elect Craig Coughlin, Assemblyman Dan Benson and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle to help fight the state's opioid epidemic received final legislative approval Monday and now heads to the governor. 

The opioid crisis has killed more than 7,000 people in New Jersey since 2012, according to a report by NJ Advance Media. Last year, at least 1,901 people died from opioid overdoses.

"This crisis is killing thousands of New Jerseyans every year and it is only getting worse," said Speaker-elect Coughlin (D-Middlesex). "We must balance both the needs of patients who rely on these drugs for pain management, and the need to address the opioid misuse and abuse that continues to take a toll on so many families and communities throughout the state."

McKeon, Benson, Kennedy & Johnson Clean Vehicle Task Force Bill Heads to Governor

Legislation Assembly Democrats John McKeon, Daniel Benson, James Kennedy and Gordon Johnson sponsored to explore ways to promote the use of "clean" vehicles in New Jersey received final legislative approval Monday and now heads to the governor's desk. 

The bill (A-3295) would establish the Clean Vehicle Task Force, whose 13 members would evaluate issues related to the promotion, development and use of clean vehicles in New Jersey. The body would submit a report with recommendations to the governor and the legislature within a year of organizing. 

"Knowing that vehicle emissions are a major contributor to air pollution it's critical that we find ways to get more vehicles with lower emissions on the road," said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). "This task force will help us find ways to protect the environment and advance our goal of slowing climate change. Now that the President has pulled us out of the Paris Accords, it's all the more crucial that states help lead the way in combating climate change." 

Benson & Quijano Legislation to Allow for Cooperative High Schools Sports Programs Heads to Governor

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel R. Benson and Annette Quijano to require the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association to allow public high schools in same school district to enter into cooperative sports programs, if schools are unable to field varsity teams individually received final legislative approval Monday and now heads to the governor's desk. 

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, high school football enrollment is down 4.5 percent over the past decade. West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North has felt these effects. With only four seniors, four juniors and 16 sophomores set to play in the upcoming fall football season, the school was forced to drop its varsity program for the upcoming school year and will only play a JV schedule. 

The West Windsor-Plainsboro School District had petitioned the state to allow High School North to merge its varsity program with the district's other school - High School South - but was denied because the schools are part of two different athletic divisions, North being a Group III school and South being a Group IV school.

Coughlin, Benson & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Help Fight NJ's Opioid Crisis Heads to Governor's Desk

A measure sponsored by Assembly Speaker-elect Craig Coughlin, Assemblyman Dan Benson and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle to help fight the state's opioid epidemic received final legislative approval Monday and now heads to the governor. 

The opioid crisis has killed more than 7,000 people in New Jersey since 2012, according to a report by NJ Advance Media. Last year, at least 1,901 people died from opioid overdoses.

"This crisis is killing thousands of New Jerseyans every year and it is only getting worse," said Speaker-elect Coughlin (D-Middlesex). "We must balance both the needs of patients who rely on these drugs for pain management, and the need to address the opioid misuse and abuse that continues to take a toll on so many families and communities throughout the state."

Singleton, Mukherji, Benson & Lampitt Bill to Require Health Insurance Providers to Cover the Use of 3-D Mammography for Breast Cancer Screening Heads to Governor

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Raj Mukherji, Dan Benson & Pamela Lampitt to require health insurers, SHBP and SEHBP to cover digital tomosynthesis for breast cancer screening received final legislative approval Monday and now heads to the governor.

Digital tomosynthesis, also sometimes called 3-D mammography, creates a three-dimensional picture of the breast using x-rays. Several low-dose images from different angles around the breast are used to create the final 3-D picture. Conventional mammography produces one image of overlapping tissue, while tomosynthesis provides multiple pictures of breast tissue as the scanner moves in an arc. The difference between the images produced by tomosynthesis and conventional mammography has been described as being akin to a three dimensional ball versus a flat circle. 

"If there is a more precise way to screen and diagnose breast cancer, then we should begin making it available to all women through their health benefits," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "Breast cancer can be curable if detected early. Women and their families should be allowed access to the medical resources necessary to diagnose and treat breast cancer."

Benson, Mukherji Bill to Help Residents with Eosinophilic Disorders Obtain Protein Formulas under Health Insurance Heads to Governor

 Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson and Raj Mukherji to require health insurance coverage for certain amino acid-based elemental formulas received final legislative approval Monday and now heads to the governor's desk. 

Amino acid-based formulas are complete nutritional formulas used to treat individuals with eosinophilic disorders. Eosinophilic disorders affect children and adults, and are characterized by above-normal amounts of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, causing inflammation in one or more areas of digestive system.

Assemblyman Benson invited a constituent from Hamilton who has eosinophilic esophagitis to testify on the bill. Maggie, who is 8 years old, began her medical treatment formula when she was 2 years old and took it through a feeding tube until age 3. Through feeding therapy and the support of her family, Benson testified, she's been able to drink the formula since then even though the smell and tastes are very hard to withstand. 

Assembly Dems Bill to Ensure Safety of Students Transported on School Buses Heads to Governor

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joseph Lagana, Reed Gusciora, Raj Mukherji, Jamel Holley, Daniel R. Benson, Joe Danielsen, Benjie Wimberly and Joann Downey to prevent individuals who have had their driving privileges suspended or revoked from operating a school bus received final legislative approval Monday and now heads to the governor's desk.

"Individuals who've had their driving privileges suspended or revoked have no business being on the road, never mind transporting children to school," said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). "Losing your driving privileges is no small infraction. This will keep irresponsible individuals from transporting school children, and ensure the safety of students who depend on school bus transportation."

"The road is already a dangerous place. Parents should be assured that the person charged with safely transporting their children to and from school is qualified to do so," said Gusciora (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). "This ensures that those individuals who knowingly drive a school bus despite not being allowed to drive are punished and are never allowed behind the wheel of a school bus."

Assembly Democratic Bill to Help Students Facing a Medical Condition or Family Death to Maintain NJ STARS Scholarships Clears Legislature

Legislation Assembly Democrats Daniel R. Benson, Wayne P. DeAngelo, Mila Jasey, Gordon Johnson, Gabriela Mosquera, Joann Downey, Andrew Zwicker and Pamela Lampitt sponsored to let NJ STARS and NJ STARS II scholarship recipients who suffer a medical condition or death of a parent or spouse to retain their program eligibility was recently approved, 33-0, by the full Senate on Friday.

The bill (A-2565) allows NJ STARS and NJ STARS II scholarship recipients to maintain program eligibility in the event that medical condition or recent death of a parent or spouse prevents enrollment as full-time student.

"This is the decent thing to do," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "College is the gateway to a brighter future, and for many students, these scholarships are a lifeline. No one should lose their eligibility because they must deal with a medical condition or tragic loss."

Benson, Vainieri Huttle Bill Overhauling NJ Animal Cruelty Law Advances in Assembly

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat Daniel Benson and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to revise and strengthen New Jersey law on animal cruelty was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Monday. 
The bill was introduced in response to a report released by the State Commission of Investigation on organizational mismanagement at the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 

"New Jersey cannot continue to rely on an outdated law and state level organization that has failed to protect animals and their owners from harm," said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). "This bill will ensure that protection of animals is harmonized with our local and county law enforcement and that animal cruelty is investigated and prosecuted with accountability and transparency."