Gubernatorial candidates talk health care reform at South Jersey forum

July 19, 2017 | Politics
Both Guadagno and Murphy want to preserve Obamacare, but diverge on how to fix it.

By Brenda Flanagan

Traditionally New Jersey’s gubernatorial campaigns barely simmer in summer, but with the president now warning GOP senators not to leave for August recess without repealing Obamacare, both candidates at this South Jersey health care forum talked about the impact that it could have.

“In the state’s health care marketplace, if I am fortunate enough to get there, I will not sit quietly and leave things to the whims of a partisan Congress and a, shall we say, unpredictable or volatile president of the United States,” said Democratic candidate Phil Murphy.

If the Affordable Care Act folds, or if Trump kills it by withholding subsidies, Murphy says more than a half million New Jersey Medicaid beneficiaries could lose coverage. Murphy says he’d consider raising state fees and taxes to protect New Jersey’s health care insurance market.

“The president has been dead wrong on health care. Republican leadership in Congress has been dead wrong. They’ve gotten this wrong at every step, and at every step everything they’ve done has been, you could use words mean, cruel, un-American and you wouldn’t be too strong in your criticism. So I’m thrilled this latest effort in the Senate fell apart. We need to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, not diminish it. I’d be open minded to anything we could do at the state level,” said Murphy.

“We added to our insurance rolls 530,000, maybe 550,000 more people. We cannot in good conscience pull the rug out from under them,” said Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.

Guadagno also says ACA health coverage for New Jersey residents should be preserved for now, but says she doesn’t support universal health care.

“And if you want to be the governor of the state of New Jersey then you have to understand it’s not political. It’s not. Universal health care, government run health care, raise your hand if you think that’s a good idea. How are we doing with that government run anything in New Jersey? And we know it’s too expensive,” Guadagno said.

Guadagno called for an audit, and for smart people like these health care professionals to sit down and find solutions. But she would not raise taxes.

“It’s not an option for New Jerseyans though if it means an increase in taxes. The problem here is that New Jersey needs lower taxes, not higher taxes,” she said.

Speaking of money, the candidate says she’ll ask the Republican Governors Association to commit more funding to her campaign. But she balked when asked to comment on the NJ Advance Media’s report that the Republican National Committee won’t help finance her bid for governor because the president’s still angry with her for dissing him over the Access Hollywood tape.

Between campaign funding and health care the political pot keeps boiling, and heat will only get turned up even higher this summer.