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The Great Divide: Candidates for Governor Far Apart on Healthcare Issues

But to Buono, Christie’s approach has led to a situation in which there was no legal distribution of marijuana nearly four years after the law allowing it was enacted. She also was critical of his decision to veto the central provision of the new law affecting children, which would have reduced the number of doctors that children must see before they can receive a prescription.

More broadly, Buono proposes eliminating legal penalties on nonmedical possession of marijuana, including decriminalizing small amounts of it. Christie is opposed to any move to legalize or decriminalize marijuana for nonmedical purposes.

Christie pleased drug policy reform advocates when he signed a bill that provides legal protections for those who alert authorities about drug overdoses and administer a heroin overdose antidote, after having vetoed an earlier version of the bill.

If reelected Christie appears unlikely to give ground on the ACA marketplace, which has been hobbled by poor website performance since it was launched on October 1, and is generally more skeptical of the larger federal role in healthcare envisioned by the ACA. The pace of medical marijuana implementation appears set to increase, but is unlikely to assuage critics concerned about access. This reflects Christie’s approach to policymaking in other social issues, in which he has applied his conservative values in a way that has disarmed some Democrats. And the annual fights over family planning centers are likely to continue, reflecting both the governor’s resistance to revisiting the decision and some Democrat's focus on highlighting issues that rally core supporters.

If Buono is elected, the state would almost certainly have its own insurance marketplace, medical marijuana regulations would likely become more lenient and Planned Parenthood and other supporters of family planning and women’s health would see more funding. But even if she pursued policies that lead to more federal funding for healthcare in the state, she would be hard-pressed to launch healthcare initiatives that would prove expensive, considering that she would face some of the same fiscal limits that Christie has cited in making cuts.

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