A report recently published on NJ.com cataloged the far-reaching web of devastating consequences resulting from the Trump administration’s efforts to weaken and sabotage the Affordable Care Act. Due to Trump’s efforts to dismantle the ACA, the number of uninsured Americans increased by 1.9 million in 2018. In New Jersey, Trump’s sustained assault against the ACA resulted in 44,000 fewer people enrolling in Medicaid in 2018 and 16,000 dropping out of the Obamacare marketplace.

However, New Jersey fought back and “insulated” itself from the reckless incompetence of the Trump administration by passing legislation that has not only insured more people, but improved coverage while lowering costs. This was accomplished by passing an individual mandate on the state level, eliminating “junk” plans that failed to offer adequate benefits and insuring the costliest patients through a program known as reinsurance. Few other states have come close to New Jersey’s success in protecting affordable health care for its residents.

My Republican incumbent opponents in the state assembly, Jay Webber and Betty Lou DeCroce, opposed the measures that expanded health insurance coverage and lowered costs for New Jersey families. Had they had their way, New Jersey would be suffering the same catastrophic impacts as so many other states. Currently, my opponents are working on measures that if enacted, would decrease coverage and increase costs.  We cannot allow that to happen.

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New Jersey’s success on health care is another clear example of how our state government is protecting its citizens from the dire impacts of Washington’s failings, as it has done by leading the nation in common sense gun safety and in supporting women’s health care providers who lost their federal Title X funding due to Trump’s campaign to deny women their right to reproductive choice.

On so many issues related to the health, safety and well-being of our residents, our state government is the last line of defense protecting our citizens from Washington. Yet on so many of these issues, the incumbents currently representing the 26th District are not protecting us or acting in our best interests. Their voting records speak for themselves.  On November 5th, we must make sure the legislators we send to Trenton are working for the people of New Jersey, representing our values and acting in our best interests. What could be more fundamental to our best interests than protecting our access to affordable health care?

Laura Fortgang is a Democratic candidate for state assembly in New Jersey's 26th legislative district, which includes Butler, Fairfield, Jefferson, Kinnelon, Lincoln Park, Montville, Morris Plains, North Caldwell, Parsippany-Troy Hills, Rockaway Township, Verona, West Caldwell, West Milford.