News Release

New Jersey Department of
Banking and Insurance
Commissioner Holly C. Bakke

For Immediate Release: February 24, 2005

For Further Information: Jaimee Gilmartin - (609) 292-5064

UnitedHealthcare and Oxford Health Plans
to donate mammography equipment

Donation will provide greater access to breast cancer screenings

EAST ORANGE – First Lady Mary Jo Codey today joins Banking and Insurance Commissioner Holly C. Bakke, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D., Dr. Alan M. Muney of UnitedHealthcare and other dignitaries at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a $1.2 million charitable donation of mammography imaging equipment to six Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers around the state.

In response to Commissioner Bakke’s challenge to the health insurance industry to invest in New Jersey communities and reach out to under-served populations, UnitedHealthcare and Oxford Health Plans, its regional operation, is purchasing seven mammography systems and two ultrasound units that will be donated to six Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers in Atlantic, Camden, Essex, Hudson and Warren counties. The recipient health centers, chosen cooperatively among the parties, serve low-income or uninsured residents throughout the state.

“As a breast cancer survivor, I know firsthand how important early detection and prevention can be,” said First Lady Mary Jo Codey. “This generous donation represents a very significant step toward providing access to quality healthcare for thousands of women who can least afford to be without it.”

It is estimated that this equipment, purchased from GE Healthcare, will make breast cancer screening available to between 15,000 and 20,000 women who utilize these six healthcare centers. United Healthcare originally committed to funding $300,000 a year for four years, but decided instead to fully fund the program this year to reach as many women as possible, as quickly as possible.

“This is a victory in the fight against breast cancer,” Commissioner Bakke said. “By making mammograms available to women whose healthcare needs are not often met, UnitedHealthcare is investing in the health of all New Jersey women.”

“New Jersey’s Centers for Primary Care play a crucial role in providing comprehensive primary and preventive care to nearly 280,000 patients a year,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Jacobs. “This new equipment will screen 20,000 women over the age of 40 who will be able to get their mammograms at Centers for Primary Care serving Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Essex, Hudson, Salem and Warren counties.”

The initial commitment was made today at the East Orange Primary Care Center, 444 William St., East Orange, by Dr. Muney, who presented the ceremonial grant to Dr. Alvaro Simmons, acting president and CEO of Newark Community Health Centers, which operates health centers in East Orange, Newark and Irvington.

“Through early detection and intervention, it is our hope that we can improve the health of our families, our businesses and our communities,” Dr. Muney said. “We will work with the health centers to ensure that women in these communities know this health screening is now available close to home.”

It is estimated that more than one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. More than 6,700 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and 1,500 die each year, making New Jersey the nation’s leader in breast cancer deaths. Studies show mammograms reduce the risk of breast cancer deaths by 21 percent.

“As providers of healthcare in Essex County, we spent many hours attempting to find tangible resources to close the many holes in the healthcare safety net for our patients,” Dr. Simmons said. “This initiative is critical to serving this unique purpose.”

Twenty community-based organizations operate 55 health centers, with another 12 opening soon. Together, they handle about 940,000 visits from 280,000 patients each year. About half of the patients who visit the centers are uninsured, and half are covered by Medicaid. Typical services include internal medicine, obstetrics, gynecology, pediatrics, medical and surgical sub-specialties, laboratory, podiatry, pharmacy, X-ray, dental and mental health services.

“The wise use and distribution of our precious healthcare resources can go a long way in addressing the healthcare crises we face today – most significantly providing healthcare services to the uninsured in our communities,” said William W. McGuire, M.D., chairman and CEO of United Group. “We are pleased to collaborate with state officials to find ways to increase access to affordable, quality healthcare.”

The mammography imaging equipment is being purchased from GE Healthcare. They will be placed at the following healthcare centers:

“As the largest worldwide provider of analog and digital mammography systems, GE Healthcare is committed to investing in research and developing innovative imaging technologies that play a key role in the screening, detection and diagnosis of breast cancer in millions of women around the world,” said Jean T.F. Hooks, general manager of GE Healthcare’s Global Mammography. “We applaud this effort to provide this lifesaving technology to the women of New Jersey as access to the latest and most advanced diagnostic technology can make all the difference in aiding early detection, more accurate diagnosis and less aggressive treatment plans for many diseases and conditions.”